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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Cleveland Browns

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Cleveland Browns rank in terms of average, best and worst:

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Browns in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 7

Person on the hot seat: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

The Browns proved last season they can move the ball -- and win -- without OBJ. Now the pressure is on Beckham to prove he can elevate Cleveland's ceiling -- and its offense -- to another level. Beckham has struggled to find a chemistry with QB Baker Mayfield since arriving two years ago. He has been limited by injuries as well, including 2020's season-ending ACL tear. But OBJ appears healthy again. And all eyes will be watching to see if the three-time Pro Bowler can make his mark in what figures to be a make-or-break season for his Cleveland tenure. -- Jake Trotter

NFL.com -- Rank: 8

The Browns had one of the league's best offenses in the red zone last season, a major factor in finishing with 11 regular-season wins despite posting a negative point differential (-11). Per ESPN's Bill Barnwell, Cleveland averaged 5.6 points per trip inside the 20, a tribute to a healthy and effective offensive line, the paired greatness of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and considerable gains by Baker Mayfield. There is some post-hype talk of regression for the Browns, but all the things that made them a winning team last season are still there -- with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. back in action, as well. The AFC North is going to be a street fight, but Cleveland is well-fortified for the battle to come.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 5

The talent is there, so it's time to live up to the expectations. The Browns are the favorite in the AFC North for a reason. Can they handle the hype?

USA Today -- Rank: 3

From free agency to the draft to the return of WR Odell Beckham Jr., did any team have a better offseason? Unlike 2019, time to take the Cleveland's Super Bowl hype quite seriously …

The Athletic -- Rank: 7

Why they're ranked here: The Browns won't surprise anyone this year, and our panel clearly considers Cleveland among the best teams in the NFL. But our voters see a gap between the Browns and the NFL's elite: All of Cleveland's votes ranged from Nos. 5 to 10. That sort of real-life finish would be good enough for a playoff spot, but not the jump to the conference championship game for which Browns fans are hoping. The reasons for optimism? One of the NFL's strongest (and now that it's healthy, deepest) offensive lines, a defense that added players to fill glaring weaknesses from a year ago (particularly in the secondary) and quarterback Baker Mayfield playing in the same offense for consecutive years for the first time in his career.

One big question: Will the veteran defensive additions pay off? The Browns made a few splashy moves to improve the defense, like signing free-agent safety John Johnson and using a first-round pick on cornerback Greg Newsome II. But the moves that might truly define how good the defense can be are veteran additions to the front seven, with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, edge rusher Takk McKinley and defensive tackles Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell. The Browns needed to give Myles Garrett help and build depth. Each of those new faces should, in theory, fill a hole, but now those four new Browns need to prove they can do it.

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