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Cleveland Browns 2020 Schedule Release: What you need to know

The NFL will release its schedule for the 2020 season on Thursday evening.

CLEVELAND — Despite the uncertainty surrounding what the 2020 NFL season will look like, the league is planning for business as usual.

On Thursday evening, the NFL will release its full schedule for the 2020 season, including all 16 games of the Cleveland Browns' campaign.

We already know who the Browns will be playing later this year, but when will those games occur and what might it mean for Cleveland's playoff hopes? We'll find out on Thursday night. Until then, here's everything you need to know about the Browns' 2020 schedule release:

How to watch:

While the NFL Network will hold a special schedule release show at 8 p.m. ET to announce the league's entire schedule, the Browns have said that they will be releasing their schedule at 7:30 p.m. ET. The team will be holding its own online show from 7-8 p.m. ET, with appearances scheduled from quarterback Baker Mayfield, head coach Kevin Stefanski, general manager Andrew Berry and WWE superstar (and Cleveland native) Mike "The Mis" Mizanin.

The show will be available to watch on the team's social media channels and in the live player below:

Who are the Browns playing?

While it's not yet public what the Browns' schedule will look like, they already know who they'll be playing and where.

Every year, each team's NFL schedule is based on a combination of its division, the previous year's results and a predetermined rotation inter-division matchups. 

As is the case every season, six of Cleveland's games will come against its three rivals in the AFC North (the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens). Meanwhile, teams the AFC North has been matched up with the AFC South and NFC East as inter-division opponents for the 2020 season. Finally, as the third-place finisher in the AFC North last season, Cleveland will face the 2019 third-place teams from the AFC East and AFC West.

As a result, the Browns' opponents for the 2020 season (in no particular order) will be as follows:

Home

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Las Vegas Raiders

Away

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • New York Giants
  • New York Jets

Key Storylines

Don't believe the hype

A year ago, the Browns were arguably the most highly touted team in the NFL, having just acquired Odell Beckham Jr. after a breakout season from Baker Mayfield. That excitement led to Cleveland being scheduled for four primetime games during the 2019 season -- the most allowed for any team under league rules.

The Browns, however, failed to make good on that hype, stumbling to a 2-6 start and 6-10 record for the season. 

Entering 2020, Cleveland still possesses enough excitement and high profile players to likely be featured in multiple primetime games. But it's also tough to imagine the Browns being the same nighttime staple on the NFL schedule that they were a year ago.

Turkey Day

Of the possible primetime contests on Cleveland's schedule, one, in particular, stands out. Scheduled to face the Dallas Cowboys on the road, the possibility exists that the Browns could find themselves featured playing "America's Team" on Thanksgiving Day.

While it's hardly a given -- there are other intriguing opponents on Dallas' schedule -- Mayfield's Texas roots and Beckham's star power could be too hard for the league's schedule-makers to pass up. Should the Browns be selected, it would mark their first Thanksgiving Day matchup since they faced the Detroit Lions in 1989.

Make or Bake

While Mayfield's star power may have dimmed, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick remains one of the most intriguing players in the NFL heading into the 2020. After breaking the NFL rookie record for passing touchdowns with 27, the Oklahoma product threw 21 interceptions in 2019, leaving Cleveland to wonder which version of Mayfield is closer to his truest form.

With a retooled offensive line, the addition of Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper and the hiring of head coach Kevin Stefanski, many are deeming 2020 to be a "make or break year" for the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner. What's more is a year from now, the Browns will have to decide whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option on Mayfield's rookie contract and potentially sign him to a high-figure long-term deal.

With so much unknown and riding on the line, all eyes remain on Mayfield entering his third season with the Browns. And how the Browns' new schedule will provide the road map for what will be the most critical season of his NFL career to this point.

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