Writer: Matthew McFartridge
Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Summary: The Cleveland Browns had a rough start to the season after being thrashed by the Baltimore Ravens. Lamar Jackson looked every bit like his 2019 MVP-self as he led the Ravens to 38 points, while the Browns offense struggled to get any sort of momentum going and could only muster six points.
Baltimore came into the 2020 season with high expectations, and they had a bit of advantage over teams such as the Cleveland Browns. In a weird offseason due to Covid-19 that limited the amount of time teams could be together and cut out preseason games, Cleveland’s new coaching staff had only a few weeks to install a new offense. Meanwhile, Baltimore kept the same offense running, and it was very evident, as they were able to move the ball with ease, while Cleveland struggled.
While Cleveland had issues present on both sides of the ball, the defensive issues are much easier to set aside, given the amount of injuries to players expected to have a significant impact this season. The offense being out of sorts has caused social media to go into a spiral, calling for Baker Mayfield to be benched, Kevin Stefanski to give up play-calling duties, and Odell Beckham Jr. to be traded. While none of these are likely to happen, especially not after one game, the Browns have to find a way to improve as they move forward.
And move forward they will, as they face off on Thursday Night Football against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals fell just short of getting Joe Burrow his first career win in his first career start, but a missed field goal spoiled the party for the celebrated rookie quarterback. With this being just Joe Burrow’s second career game, and it coming on a short week, you have to wonder if the soreness he experienced from his first NFL game will still be with him and cause him to be a bit hesitant to take hits from the talented Browns defensive linemen.
The game should remain close throughout. While the Cleveland Browns have a more talented roster, that talent hasn’t done much for the franchise the past few seasons. The Bengals seemed much more hungry in Week 1, and until I see more from Baker Mayfield and the rest of the Browns lineup, I lack faith that they’ll be able to perform. I have to go with the Bengals in a close battle between the two Paul Brown franchises.
Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Cleveland 16