2009 record: 5-11 (Fourth in AFC North)
Michael LombardiThey are much better on offense and defense, but their talent level is still behind and they play in one of the toughest divsion in football.
4The Browns closed out last season with four consecutive victories. Extending that hot finish to the start of this year would help Cleveland establish some confidence early and position the team to be a factor down the stretch.
Browns president Mike Holmgren granted the embattled Mangini a pass for his dismal record after watching the team reel off four consecutive wins to close the 2009 season. However, Holmgren won't be as kind the second time around, so Mangini must guide his team to a strong start to avoid being dismissed two years into his tenure.
Jake DelhommeThe 11-year veteran arrives in Cleveland after a disappointing end to his days in Carolina. Delhomme accounted for 36 turnovers in his last 27 regular season starts, and his penchant for miscues undermined the offense's chances for success. In spite of his recent struggles, the two-time Pro Bowler brings a winner's mentality to a franchise searching for leadership. While that alone won't mask his waning arm strength and questionable decision making, it could be enough to provide a short-term solution to the Browns' quarterback problem.
Hardesty has upsideAn injured knee might have set Montario Hardesty back in the preseason, but he's still a fantasy sleeper. In fact, owners should expect to see a committee develop with Hardesty and Jerome Harrison during the season. Based on his upside, though, Hardesty could be the starter sooner than later.
Three pivotal games
Sept. 19 vs. Kansas CityThe league's top two rookie defensive backs square off in this Week 2 matchup. The Chiefs took safety Eric Berry fifth overall, before the Browns grabbed cornerback Joe Haden two picks later. Each will likely play a major role here, and with it still so early in the season, they will probably get targeted by the opposing quarterback and see plenty of action.
Nov. 7 vs. New EnglandIt's always worth watching when Browns coach Eric Mangini and Patriots coach Bill Belichick lock horns. There is a lot of history between the two men. Mangini was Belichick's prot�g� in New England at one time, before his taking a job with the Jets and helping to initiate the Patriots' 2007 videotape scandal, which led to a greater divide between the two.
Dec. 19 at CincinnatiThe annual battle of Ohio gets its second 2010 installment in Week 14. If the Browns are surprisingly in the playoff chase, this game would obviously hold more importance than just bragging rights, but even if they are eliminated from contention by this point, dealing the rival Bengals a damaging late-season loss could provide significant satisfaction.