After an 0-10 start, the Cleveland Browns are six losses away from completing the fourth winless season by an NFL team since World War II. The Browns would join the 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0-11-1), the 1975 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14), the 1982 Baltimore Colts (0-8-1 during a strike-shortened season) and the 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16). Both the Cowboys and Buccaneers were new franchises in debut seasons during their winless years.
Though it’s never a good thing to draw comparisons to the ’08 Lions, Cleveland actually stacks up favorably to the most recent winless team. Detroit was outscored by an average of 32.3-16.8 in 2008, compared to Cleveland’s 30.1-17.5 average. The Browns are also generating more yardage than the ’08 Lions, averaging 321.3 yards per game, 53.0 yards more than their predecessors. Cleveland counts several near misses on the schedule, including a 25-20 loss to Baltimore, a 30-24 loss to Miami, a 28-26 loss to Tennessee and a 31-28 loss to the New York Jets.
Is it just a matter of time before the Browns pick up that elusive first win? Using WhatIfSports.com’s NFL simulation engine, we played the Browns against each of their remaining opponents, simulating every matchup 501 times. Check out their week-by-week odds at a winless season:
Heading into this weekend’s tilt against the Steelers, Cleveland has a 10.8 percent chance to finish the year 0-16. The Browns’ best hope to notch a win may actually come this Sunday. WhatIfSports likes Cleveland to upset Pittsburgh 35.5 percent of the time, the Browns’ highest winning percentage of their remaining games. If the Browns lose to Pittsburgh, their probability to finish 0-16 increases to 16.7 percent.
Cleveland’s remaining schedule shapes up rather favorably to capture a victory. Only one remaining opponent, the 6-3 New York Giants, boasts a winning record. Additionally, four of Cleveland’s six games are at home, including the next three. But even if the Browns do finish 0-16, don’t waste too much sympathy on the city. As any Cleveland sports fan will be quick to remind you, the Cavaliers are reigning NBA champions and the Indians just won an AL pennant. Perhaps a winless Browns squad will help keep the city grounded.