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Could the Browns and the 49ers go winless?

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JOSHUA DAUSENER, Copy Editor

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Editor’s note: Approximately two hours after this article went to print, the San Francisco 49ers won their first game after beating the New York Giants 31-21.

As of press time, two winless NFL teams remain. The 0-9 Cleveland Browns and the  San Francisco 49ers are grappling to avoid becoming the first 0-16 team since the 2008 Lions. Fortunately for them, each team has several games coming up that stand out as potential first-wins for them.

Cleveland’s schedule is full of tough, but far from unwinnable, games. Next week Cleveland hosts a solid but not elite Jaguars team. Then the Browns travel to Cincinnati for a tough divisional game on Nov. 26 and travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers on Dec. 3. It would be difficult to bet against the Bengals, but the game against L.A. stands out as a potential “W” for Cleveland. The Chargers were the only team Cleveland beat during the 2016 season, as the Browns finished 1-15. Plus, the Chargers possess one of the weakest homefield advantages in the league.

The Browns host Green Bay on Dec. 10 and Baltimore on Dec. 17. Baltimore will be another tough divisional play, but the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers stand out as a team vulnerable to losing to Cleveland. The Browns finish their season on the road, playing the Bears in Chicago on Christmas Eve and Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on New Year’s Eve. The Browns narrowly lost to Pittsburgh 21-18 in the season opener, and the Steelers have a history of playing down to inferior teams, but a Browns win still seems unlikely.

The 49ers are better than Cleveland and seem to have a slightly lighter schedule. As of press time, the 49ers are beating the New York Giants 17-13 at halftime. San Francisco hosts the Seahawks next week. Seattle is a better team than the Niners, but these two teams have a history of competitive nail-biter games.

After that, the Niners travel to Chicago to play the Bears on Dec. 3 and to Houston to play the DeShaun Watson-less Texans on Dec. 10. Both are winnable games. San Francisco closes their season with games against the Titans, Jaguars and Rams.

None of these teams are elite, but all three of them are better than the 49ers; San Francisco will be favored in none of them, but each is a winnable contest.

Cleveland may go 0-16, but Browns fans ought not fret yet, as a bad Chargers squad and an injury-ridden Packers team stand out as potential wins for the Browns. The 49ers are less likely to go winless, especially if newly acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo pans out. The best chances of a Niners “W” this season will come against the Bears and the Texans in coming weeks. Both of these teams are bad, but going 0-16 is unusual. Neither of these teams are historically bad, and each has several good chances to avoid the company of the ‘08 Lions.

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Could the Browns and the 49ers go winless?