Upon return from suspension, Deshaun Watson will be thrown into AFC North Fire Brigade
On Monday, August 1, it was announced that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson would be suspended for the first six games of the 2022 NFL season. As a result, Watson will miss the following games:
- At the Carolina Panthers (A possible matchup with Baker Mayfield if indeed he’s named the starting quarterback for Carolina)
- Vs. the New York Jets, (I predicted this game would be the home opener right from the beginning)
- Vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, (Thursday Night Football)
- At the Atlanta Falcons (A possible trap game after an emotional primetime showdown against Pittsburgh)
- Vs. the Los Angeles Chargers (A rematch of one of the best games from the 2021 NFL season)
- Vs. the New England Patriots (A team the Browns haven’t beaten since 2010)
The NFL has until Thursday, August 4, to decide if they want to appeal Waston’s suspension and try to have extended as the timeline is three days.
With Watson suspended, backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett will assume starting duties for the Browns. Even with Brissett as the starting quarterback, Cleveland has a great chance of starting the season 4-0.
By the time Watson gets back from suspension, the Browns could very well be 3-3, 4-2, or maybe even 5-1 (if they somehow, some way beat the Chargers and Patriots at home). As long as the six-game suspension holds up, Watson would make his official Cleveland debut in Week 7 and be thrown directly into the fire.
Who do the Cleveland Browns play in Week 7 on October 23? They travel to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland to play the team who has won two Super Bowls in 2000 and 2012. Their colors are purple and black. John Harbaugh is their head coach. They usually have a tenacious defense. Their kicker, Justin Tucker, made a 66-yard field goal last season. They’ve got Lamar Jackson as their quarterback. They’re the Browns’ biggest rival. It’s the Baltimore Ravens.
Making your debut on the road against your biggest rival is difficult enough. However, it won’t get any easier when the Browns return home in Week 8.
Typically, Cleveland games kick off on Sunday afternoons at 1:00 pm EST. Occasionally, they’ll be in the 4:00 window. However, Week 8 won’t be on Sunday at 1:00 pm nor will it start at 4:00 pm. In fact, it won’t kick off on Sunday at all. Instead, the game will kickoff at 8:15 pm on Monday Night Football on Halloween.
Who’s the opponent for the Week 8 Monday Night Football Holloween showdown off the shores of Lake Erie? It’s another AFC North division rival. This division rival wears orange helmets with black stripes. They represented the AFC in Super Bowl 56 last season against the Los Angeles Rams. They’re roughly four hours away. They play in Paul Brown Stadium. They’ve got Jamar Chase who is the reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Joe Burrow is their quarterback. It’s the Cincinnati Bengals in Round 1 of the Battle of Ohio.
Talk about the gauntlet being thrown down. Possibly the only way the two-week return for Watson could be more difficult is if he had to come back and play Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the first week. Then, come home the following week and play Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.
Jacoby Brissett is a very capable backup quarterback who can hold down the fort until Deshaun Watson gets back on the field for the Cleveland Browns. But for Watson to have to return and immediately face Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow in back-to-back weeks is a daunting task. Talk about being thrust right into the AFC North fire.