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2020 NFL team previews: The Cleveland Browns have to be good eventually, right?

The Browns were 2019 offseason champions in 2019, and then failed miserably. They can’t fail that hard again... can they?

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

2019 was supposed to be the year for the Cleveland Browns. One of the NFL’s most miserable franchises had a starlet quarterback and had just acquired on of the league's best offensive weapons. Combine that with a few defensive stars on defense, and you should have your first playoff team since 2002 (and only the third in 30 years).

Instead, they went 6-10 and looked terrible in the process. Baker Mayfield regressed heavily after a great rookie year. The offense was terrible, and they missed the playoffs once again.

Many of the big pieces that had us all excited in 2019 are back again in 2020. They already failed to live up to expectations last year, but it cannot happen to them again, right?

The NFL season is almost upon us! Over the next few weeks I will be previewing each of the 32 NFL teams, and ranking them 1-32 as to how likely I believe they are to win Super Bowl LV. This week we continue the list with teams who could truly contend for title this year.

18. New England Patriots
17. Buffalo Bills
16. Houston Texans
15. Green Bay Packers
14. Minnesota Vikings

13. Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It is hard to explain what happened to Mayfield in 2019. The first overall pick looked like a star-in-the-making his rookie season. He threw 27 touchdown passes in 13 and a half games, and for the first time since the days of Bernie Kosar, it looked like the Browns would have some sort of stability at quarterback in the future. Then he looked terrible in 2019.

Last year was Mayfield’s first full season as as starting quarterback, and he became a turnover machine. He threw 21 interceptions alongside 22 touchdowns. He also fumbled the ball six times. Mayfield looked confident and controlled in the pocket his rookie year, then looked panicked and scared in year two. He made a ton of mistakes you would not have expected him to make after his impressive first year, and it appears that it was just a random regression rather than some sort of actual problem.

Mayfield’s poor 2019 made Odell Beckham Jr., their star offseason acquisition last year, feel invisible. While he did eclipse the 1,000-yard mark again—something he has done in every season in which he has played at least 12 games—he only scored four touchdowns and no longer felt like the type of impact player he was in the past.

If Beckham gets back to previous form, though, he headlines a very impressive group of skill players. Jarvis Landry has evolved during his time in Cleveland, going from short-yardage utility receiver to overall stud. Nick Chubb is an explosive threat at running back and among the league's most dangerous players with the ball in his hands. David Njoku missed a majority of 2019 with an injury, but finally looked like he was developing into a star in 2018. Put an improved offensive line that now include Jack Conklin and rookie first-round pick Jedrick Wills, and there is legitimate hope for this offense.

They have a great collection of talent on the defensive side of the ball as well. Myles Garrett will return after being suspended to end the season in 2019. Garrett is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and has totaled over 30 sacks in three years. This offseason, he was rewarded for his contributions with a five-year deal worth $125 million.

Playing across from Garrett is another great pass rusher in Olivier Vernon, and defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi round out a talented group inside. The Browns defensive front has game-wrecking potential and may be able to steal a few games for the team just on their own.

Cleveland’s secondary features another young star in Denzel Ward, though they may be lacking outside of him. Rookie safety Grant Delpit will miss his rookie season after suffering an Achilles injury in training camp. Delpit’s absence will be felt. Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo are fine players—Sendejo is much better than his poor reputation would make one believe—but not exactly stars in the defensive backfield. The Browns will also be hoping the Greedy Williams—last year’s second-round pick that had a rough rookie season—will make a year 2 leap.

If you stripped this team of their name, logo and city, you would have to think they are contenders. If Mayfield returns to form, they have a team with no glaring flaws that should be able to compete with anyone. But like we saw last year, it seems almost destined for this team to fail. Betting on the Browns to turn it around once again seems like a mistake, but if their young quarterback can get it together, do not be surprised if they make a dent in the playoff race.