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Analysis: Five questions waiting to be answered by complete schedule release Wednesday

Call up the calendar on your phone and get ready to make plans.

The NFL schedule release is Wednesday night, the league made official Monday morning.

The opponents and sites have been set since the regular season ended. What we’ll finally find out in primetime are the dates and times for those matchups.

Like everything in the NFL, the schedule release has become an event. An oversized one at that.

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Fans got a sneak peek late Monday afternoon when it was announced the Browns will host the Dallas Cowboys in the opener Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. Fox will broadcast the game and Tom Brady will be the analyst.

The Week 1 matchup answered one pressing questions, but here are five more as we await the complete Browns schedule.


IS LONDON CALLING?

The Browns avoided the hassle of a Week 1 trip to Brazil to face the Eagles. They could still draw an international game, however, as the Jaguars will host a game in London and the Browns are scheduled to play in Jacksonville.

A trip to London isn’t exactly routine but the Browns have made it before — the last time in 2017 — it’s a regular piece of the NFL schedule and is much easier than the game in Sao Paulo would’ve been. The first game in South America is certainly historic, but logistically it feels like the Packers got stuck with it and the Browns caught a break.

The international games were announced a day earlier than the rest of the schedule last season, so we could know Tuesday if the Browns will have to get their passports in order.

A CHRISTMAS DOUBLE?

The NFL is officially all-in on playing on Christmas.

The league has avoided Wednesday games throughout its history but found the holiday audiences too big to ignore. So two games will be played Dec. 25 even though it falls in the middle of the week.

In order to make Wednesday work, the teams that play Christmas will play the previous Saturday, Dec. 21. It’s still a short turnaround, but the same as from Sunday to Thursday — a staple of the league schedule, including Thanksgiving.

Because four teams will be required for the Saturday-Wednesday combo and back-to-back matchups aren’t desirable, it makes sense for one division to get the assignments. The AFC North was the NFL’s best in 2023 and promises to be again this year, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to the see the Browns, Ravens, Steelers and Bengals get the intense holiday spotlight.

NIGHT MOVES?

Primetime games typically steal the headlines when the schedule is released. The coaches, players and fans want to know when they’ll be playing a showcase game.

The Browns had two night games last year — Monday in Pittsburgh in Week 2 and Thursday at home vs. the Jets in Week 17 — and the expectation is a jump this year. They’re coming off a playoff season, return a strong roster, have the Defensive Player of the Year in Myles Garrett and face many attractive opponents. Quarterback Deshaun Watson also is less toxic than he was in 2022, when he was suspended for 11 games following more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy appointments.

I put the over/under for primetime games at 3.5.

WHEN ARE THE STARS OUT?

The aforementioned attractive matchups are all about the quarterbacks.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Dallas’ Dak Prescott, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa join Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow as visitors to Cleveland Browns Stadium. On the road, the Browns are set to play Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence and Washington rookie Jayden Daniels in addition to Jackson and Burrow.

That’s a murderer’s row of quarterbacks and speaks to the strength of Cleveland’s schedule, which ranks the toughest in the NFL with an opponents’ winning percentage of .547 in 2023. The AFC North is a big part of that, as all four teams had winning records.

Throw in the regular-season MVP (Jackson) and the Super Bowl MVP (Mahomes), and two things are obvious. Browns games will be must-see TV, and Watson needs to find his Pro Bowl form and stay on the field.

We just need to know in what order the Browns will face some of the league’s top passers.

VEGAS, BABY?

For the first time the Browns will play in Las Vegas. The Raiders moved from Oakland to Sin City in 2020, so the Browns will get their first look at the impressive Allegiant Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl in February.

It will be interesting to see when the Browns make the trip. Is Adele in town? Who’s playing at the Sphere? Is it a long weekend? (Fingers crossed.)

The city, more than the Raiders, will have fans rushing to book flights and hotel rooms. Browns fans travel well and like a party, so brown and orange will be everywhere on the casino floors.

If Vegas doesn’t work, New Orleans is a great party town and the Browns will visit there, as well.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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