After missing the playoffs in 1956, ending a string of 10 straight years in which they had advanced to the league championship game, the Browns came storming back to finish 9–2–1 and win the Eastern Conference title by a relatively healthy margin over the defending world champion New York Giants (7–5). The Browns took care of business against the Giants, "bookending," as it were, their arch rivals. They beat New York 6–3 in the season opener and then edged them again 34–28 in the finale. The Browns also posted two shutouts on the year, 24–0 over the Pittsburgh Steelers and 31–0 over the Chicago Cardinals.
Ironically, the Eastern foe the Browns had the most trouble with was fourth-place Washington (5–6–1). Cleveland edged the Redskins 21–17 and then had to settle for a 30–30 tie in the rematch. Once again, the Browns fell to Detroit 20–7, making them 0–3 against the Lions in the regular season since joining the NFL in 1950.
Although they had a rookie All-American running back out of Syracuse by the name of Jim Brown, the Browns were by no means an offensive juggernaut overall. The eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer was outstanding, rushing for 942 yards and nine TDs, but he was the only real standout that year. Tommy O'Connell, who had taken over for retired Hall of Famer Otto Graham in 1956 and was the quarterback during the 5–7 finish that year, had the job for most of the way in '57 as well. He and rookie Milt Plum combined for just 1,873 yards passing 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.