The Browns will open and close against the Pittsburgh Steelers and take a trip to London in the middle.
And the NFL has decided they’re not ready for prime time. The league changed its policy of giving every team a Thursday night game and the Browns were left out.
The league announced the 2017 schedule Thursday night, and the opener and finale stand out. The Browns will host the Steelers on Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium to kick off the year, then end it Dec. 31 in Pittsburgh.
This is the first time since 1963 and fourth time in history the Browns will start and finish against the same opponent, but it’s never been the Steelers. The Browns have opened against Pittsburgh seven times, and this will be the seventh time in eight years they’ll meet in a finale.
“It’s great to open at home this year in front of our fans,” coach Hue Jackson said in a news release. “The Steelers have what we want as the reigning AFC North champs so this will be a great challenge and a good opportunity for us to measure ourselves at the start the season. I know our fans will be really jacked up and behind us as always and we greatly appreciate them for it.”
The Browns will travel to London on Oct. 29 to play the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium. It counts as one of Cleveland’s eight home games and will kick off at 9:30 a.m. and air on NFL Network -- the lone national TV game on the schedule. It’s the team’s first regular-season game outside the U.S.
“The London game comes at a really good time, with the bye following the game, it’s great to have that at the midseason point,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be good to coach against an old friend in Mike Zimmer, across the pond. No doubt that Zim will have his team ready to go and so will we, it should be a great experience for our team to represent the City of Cleveland internationally.”
The Browns better be ready coming out of the gate, as they face all three AFC North rivals within the first four games -- at Baltimore in Week 2 and home for Cincinnati in Week 4. It’s just the second time the Browns will open with back-to-back North games.
“We like the division battles whenever those games come on the schedule,” Jackson said. “It really doesn’t matter because we know we have to be at our best when we play division games and we will be up for the challenge at the start of the season.”
The Browns play no more than two in a row at home or on the road but finish with two straight on the road, at Chicago (on Dec. 24) and Pittsburgh.
The schedule opens with seven straight AFC games before meeting the Vikings in London. The only other game not slated to start at 1 p.m. is a 4:05 kickoff in Los Angeles against the newly relocated Chargers on Dec. 3.
“The schedule release is always an exciting day,” Jackson said. “We’ve known our opponents but to get the dates and for the schedule to be laid out in front of us really give us a lot to look forward to. Obviously, it’s something our entire organization looks forward to. I know our fans like it too because they kind of get to map out their fall.”
The Browns terminated the contract of guard Alvin Bailey and waived defensive backs Trae Elston and Tracy Howard in the first week of the offseason program.
Bailey started five games last year in his only season with the team. He pleaded no contest to an OVI charge in November after being arrested earlier in the season after returning to town following a road trip.
Howard appeared in 15 games with three starts. Elston was inactive for two games and spent the final two weeks on the practice squad.
Sept. 10 Pittsburgh Steelers 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Sept. 17 at Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Sept. 24 at Indianapolis Colts 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Oct. 1 Cincinnati Bengals 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Oct. 8 New York Jets 1 p.m. Ch. 8
Oct. 15 at Houston Texans 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Oct. 22 Tennessee Titans 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Oct. 29 Minnesota Vikings (London) 9:30 a.m. NFL Network
Nov. 5 BYE
Nov. 12 at Detroit Lions 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Nov. 19 Jacksonville Jaguars 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Nov. 26 at Cincinnati Bengals 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Dec. 3 at Los Angeles Chargers 4:05 p.m. Ch. 19
Dec. 10 Green Bay Packers 1 p.m. Ch. 8
Dec. 17 Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Dec. 24 at Chicago Bears 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Dec. 31 at Pittsburgh Steelers 1 p.m. Ch. 19
Thursday, Aug. 10 New Orleans Saints 8 p.m. Ch. 5
Monday, Aug. 21 New York Giants 8 p.m. ESPN
Saturday, Aug. 26 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7:30 p.m. Ch. 5
Thursday, Aug. 31 at Chicago Bears 8 p.m. Ch. 5
*Times subject to change