It’s not entirely uncommon for the Pittsburgh Steelers to get off to a 3-1 start. They are guaranteed to do at least that this year, given that they are already 3-0, the only unbeaten team in the AFC North. Because they have already had their bye, however, it allowed the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns the opportunity to catch up in the win column, of which both took advantage.
Cleveland is now 3-1, two games over .500, which is the first time that has occurred since late in the 2014 season, during which they are actually 7-4 with five games to play before improbably and impressively dropping their final five games.
The last time that they got off to a 3-1 start on the season, up to a .750 winning percentage, however, was much longer ago. You almost have to go back to the ‘old Browns’ days to get there. At least, you have to go back to the third year of their reincarnation, in 2001.
The Browns ended up finishing 7-9 that season, but they started out hot after dropping the opener to the Seattle Seahawks, 9-6. After that, they went on a three-game winning streak, beating the Lions, the Jaguars, and the Chargers. They lost their next two games, both of them in overtime, before winning two more, at which point they were 6-4, but finished the season on a 1-5 run. They only scored at least 20 points in a game once in their final seven contests.
They’re not having that problem this time. In fact, since scoring just six points in the opener, I’m not sure there has been a more productive team in the league over the past three weeks on the scoring sheet. They put up 35 on the Cincinnati Bengals in week two, 34 over the Washington Football Team a week ago, and then yesterday, had their way with the Dallas Cowboys in stretches, ultimately winning 49-38.
Needless to say, it has been some time since Cleveland put up that many points in a game as well, and their victory featured three touchdowns for Odell Beckham—one from Baker Mayfield, one from Jarvis Landry, and one on a 50-yard end-around, because of course.
Of all things, they also converted a two-point play after one touchdown when the Cowboys blocked a point-after try, Dallas failed to recover the ball, giving the Browns the opportunity to recover it themselves, doing so successfully.
Although Cleveland has been playing some questionable defenses, their offense does appear to be legitimate, and Mayfield has been playing at a much higher level since his struggles in the first game of the season against the Ravens. It’s awfully premature, but it’s starting to look like what they expected when they drafted him in 2018.