There's nowhere to go but up for the Cleveland Browns.
How far is questionable. Cleveland is coming off a 1-15 year in Hue Jackson's first season as head coach. Can the Browns somehow have a .500 or better record in September and December? That was the key to a 10-6 season in 2007. Cleveland will know if that's even remotely possible after an early-season AFC North round robin.
Here's a month-by-month breakdown of the Browns' 2017 regular-season schedule, and how we see it playing out.
Browns schedule 2017
vs. Pittsburgh, at Baltimore, at Indianapolis
Cleveland is 18-43 in September since returning to the NFL in 1999. There would be no bigger statement then knocking off the rival Steelers in Week 1 given Ben Roethlisberger is 20-2 against the Browns. That includes a 10-2 record in Cleveland. While it's unclear who the Browns' quarterback will be in Week 1, pulling off the upset there would go a long way in winning over the fan base. A split against Baltimore and Indianapolis on the road would be a more realistic scenario.
vs. Cincinnati, vs. N.Y. Jets, at Houston, vs. Tennessee, vs. Minnesota (London)
The rival Bengals swept Cleveland last season, so a victory against Cincinnati would be a big statement for Cleveland. Since beating the Bengals 24-3 on Nov. 16, 2014, the Browns have lost five consecutive two-score games against their in-state rivals. The can't-miss games on the schedule are home games against the Jets and Titans. The Browns have to win those. Will Brock Osweiler be Cleveland's starter at Houston? If so, that's an interesting storyline.
BYE, at Detroit, vs. Jacksonville, at Cincinnati
That's a relatively kind schedule coming out of the bye week with three 1 p.m. kickoffs. These are opportunities for Cleveland to pile up a few quiet victories.
at L.A. Chargers, vs. Green Bay, vs. Baltimore, at Chicago, at Pittsburgh
Who put the Packers, Ravens and Steelers on the Browns' December schedule? That's brutal, and normally around this time of year, Cleveland is out of the hunt. The Browns are 21-63 since 1999 in December, a winning percentage of .250. That includes one December win in each of the last four seasons.
Browns schedule 2017: record prediction
We're willing to take a glass-half-full approach with the Browns. Cleveland won either four or five games over six straight seasons from 2008-13. That stretch in late October to early November against the Titans, Vikings, Lions and Jaguars will be a chance to increase that win total and show progress in Jackson's second season.
Book-ending the schedule on both sides with the Steelers wasn't exactly a nice touch. Of course, we're taking a disclaimer considering we're still not 100 percent sure who Cleveland's quarterback will be in 2017.