Here we go folks! Week one of the NFL’s 2023 season is here. The Cleveland Browns will host the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium, as the “Battle of Ohio” and a clash of two AFC North teams will take place.
Bengals starting quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase lead a high-powered Bengals offense into Cleveland. The Bengals are expected to be a serious contender in the AFC, and some will say they wouldn’t be surprised if Cincinnati ends up playing in the super bowl.
Cincinnati has a great offense, and their defense isn’t bad. The Bengals are strong on the defensive line and have talent with their cornerbacks.
Zac Taylor is their head coach and looks to help guide the Bengals on another deep postseason run.
Cincinnati had the 8th ranked offense in the NFL from a yards per game standpoint. The Bengals averaged 360 YPG and 7th in points per game at 26.
Quarterback Joe Burrow has a record of 1-4 against Cleveland with his one win coming in Cincinnati last season. The Browns look to make that 1-5 this Sunday.
For the Cleveland Browns, this is the year where they are all in. Everyone knows the situation. Cleveland traded for starting quarterback Deshaun Watson and are banking on Watson to regain his Houston Texans form. Watson was considered a top five QB at that time.
If Watson does indeed return to his usual form, the Browns will be dangerous.
Cleveland has, who many consider the best running back in the NFL, with Nick Chubb in the backfield. Cleveland added Amari Cooper last year to their wider receiver room and this year, made the trade for Elijah Moore.
Cleveland is bringing back their entire top 10 ranked offensive line from last year and based on the preseason, it looks like the Browns finally have quality depth on the O-line for once.
Defensively, Cleveland knew they had to get better. They brought in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and his “Wide nine” scheme. The linemen are simply lining up wider than normal before the snap.
The Browns made the trade for new defensive end ZaDarius Smith to help defensive end Myles Garrett on the edge. Cleveland then went out and bulked up the middle of the line and added Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris.
It’s going to be very interesting to watch both lines for each team battling all game.
How the Bengals win: Joe Burrow has struggled against the Browns. If he can get off to a hot start and connect quickly with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, that’s going to cause a lot of problems for the Browns.
Starting running back Joe Mixon would then be able to get in on the action and run the clock down.
Cincinnati can score with anyone, but can their offensive line protect Burrow? That’s always been a concern and if Burrow is getting heat early, that will be an issue.
Cincinnati is going to score points. Can their defense do its job?
Cleveland wants to avoid going to 14 or 21 early. If that happens, it could be a long day.
How the Browns Win: If Watson gets off to a fast start and the Bengals have to respect his passing abilities, which will open the door for Nick Chubb. Cleveland has a chance to have an amazing offense. The Bengals are in trouble if they let Watson or Chubb get hot early. This is a situation of pick your poison.
If Cleveland starts to score early and often, Jim Schwartz will have a chance to get very aggressive early and we could see the best pass-rush duo in the NFL have a field day in the backfield with Garrett and Smith taking down Burrow multiple times.
I’m not picking a winner, but I do feel this game will be very close. This could easily come down to the kicking game and I, for one, am glad that Cleveland traded for kicker Dustin Hopkins. I would not feel comfortable at all with Cade York in this situation.
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