Cleveland Browns schedule: Beating Carolina Panthers in Week 1 is a must

Every game counts but beating the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the regular season is a “must-win” for the Cleveland Browns

Since the NFL schedule was released this past week, there’s been several attempts at predicting how the Cleveland Browns season might go.

Many of those projections are already saying the Browns will have a good start to the season getting to play the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 followed by their home opener against the New York Jets in Week 2 and then a Thursday Night Game against division foe Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve even seen fans of Cleveland giving the team 14 or 15 wins on the season.

Let’s all take a deep breath and first understand that winning Week 1 against the Panthers should be the only game at this point four months away that even the actual team should be concerned about.

It’s been well documented that the Browns are a dismal 1-21-1 since 1999. That isn’t good.

Their opponent, the Carolina Panthers are coming off of a very poor season and their head coach Matt Rhule will be fighting to keep his job after two seasons of bad football.

The Browns have their new star quarterback in Deshaun Watson and by most accounts will be playing this season barring any sudden change in the track of his legal battles off the football field.

There are no excuses for the Browns this time. The team has played better in season openers the last few seasons but getting this win has to be considered a must.

Breaking a bad habit

Habits are hard to break. We all know that.

That’s even the case for sports teams, especially those from Cleveland. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if the Browns lose in Week 1. In 2020, and Browns coach Kevin Stefanki’s debut, the team was embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens and lost. Yet, they recovered after that game and made it to the playoffs.

It would be a big weight lifted off the shoulders of the players if they were to get the win at Carolina.

Give momentum to the season

What a win like that would do for this Cleveland team and the tone that it would set on the season can’t be understated. It would be a very deal. The Browns would then come home to play the New York Jets.

Again, some think that this game would be an easy win as well. Maybe it will be a victory, but we don’t want to jump ahead too far. Taking it a game at a team seemed to be a good philosophy a couple of seasons ago.

Deshaun Watson debut with Cleveland Browns

The fact that Watson is the new face of the Cleveland franchise and that he’s a very rich man now with a $230 guaranteed million contract, playing in his first game as the team’s leader will also be a very big symbolic moment. There will be enormous pressure on him to do well every time he steps onto the football field.

But getting that first one will be huge.

The fan base is pretty divided with their support of the Watson because of the off-field issues that the quarterback is facing at the moment. The move to trade for Watson took many fans by surprise and the added issue of their previous quarterback Baker Mayfield not leaving very quietly has made the whole offseason a bit more unpredictable.

Watson could go a long way in patching up some of those negative feelings by winning.