The Cleveland Browns were the worst team in the league. Now they are +1600 to win the Super Bowl. We take a look at their incredible journey and analyse their chances of lifting the Lombardi Trophy.Embed from Getty Images
Biggest franchise turnaround ever
On the face of it the Browns face a huge task to win the Super Bowl.
Not long ago they were one of the worst teams in NFL history. Their record across the 2016 and 2017 seasons (1-31) was the worst two-year record of any team since the Chicago Cardinals went 0-10 and 0-10 in 1943/44.
Two seasons on and they’re being talked of as Super Bowl contenders. If they were to pull it off it would represent a turnaround rarely seen in any sport. Certainly, it would be the sharpest in NFL history.
There is just one example in the 100 years of the NFL which comes close. That was the San Francisco 49ers, who went 2-14 in 1978 and 1979 before winning the Super Bowl two seasons later.
Dorsey got to work
The reason Cleveland fans think a championship may be in reach is down to what happened last year.
John Dorsey became general manager in December 2017 and within six months he had brought in the players to create a completely new offense. They included Baker Mayfield (QB), Nick Chubb (RB) and Jarvis Landry (WR).
It worked. The team improved to 7-8-1 and Mayfield broke the record for rookie touchdown passes (27), surpassing Peyton Manning (26) and Russell Wilson (26), despite starting only 13 games.
Not satisfied, Dorsey got busy again in the off-season, adding Pro Bowlers Kareem Hunt (RB), Odell Beckham Jr (WR), Sheldon Richardson (DT) and Olivier Vernon (DE).
Browns expectations 2019
Right now almost everyone is expecting further improvement from the Browns. They had a winning record (5-3) in the second half of 2018 and the notable additions to the roster make a winning season seem likely.
The Browns also have a relatively soft schedule in 2019. In fact, the only teams they face who have shorter odds for the Super Bowl are the Patriots and Rams.
The vibe in Cleveland is another positive for the year ahead. The players and fans are excited and united. That’s worth a lot as long as they remain grounded.
There are one or two questions over whether they can go all the way. As Kitchens says, there is more to winning championships than collecting talented individual players. They will have to become a team.
Also, Kitchens himself will have to make a bit of history if he’s to win the Super Bowl, as the last rookie head coach to lift the Lombardi trophy was George Seifert in 1990 – and he inherited a team that had just won the Super Bowl.
Betting the Browns
The NFL was created for these sharp improvement scenarios. The draft, salary cap and free agency were all crafted to make the league open, competitive and balanced.
The system works, as every year one team goes from worst to first within their division. To date no team has quite pulled off the turnaround that Cleveland is attempting but if it is ever going to happen this Browns team could be the one.
They harvested draft capital in their bad years and spent it wisely. And because many of their top players are on rookie contracts they can afford to bring in the experienced stars. We haven’t seem them play together yet but on paper they could be superb.
Most objective fans want the team to do well. They certainly have the potential to win the Super Bowl and their odds (+1600), though based largely on hype and projection, are fair.
The odds suggest they will make the Playoffs but being in the AFC means they could face the Patriots or Chiefs in the Championship game. Those teams would be well equipped to derail the Browns bandwagon, as they are better established and have already shown the requisite talent and experience.
The odds for the Browns this season are:
Win AFC North: +130
Make the Playoffs: -122
Win AFC Championship: +750
Super Bowl: +1600
Odds shown are for guidance purposes. They are the the general odds available from a range of sources at the time of writing. Odds will vary between sportsbooks and over time. PFBPro offers no guarantee these odds will be available at your sportsbook.