We are now hours away from the Cleveland Browns kicking off the 2023 season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In search of just their third Week 1 win since returning to the NFL in 1999, Cleveland has a tough draw with the two-time AFC North Champions coming to town. Having said that, they have had more luck against Joe Burrow than any other team.
Burrow, who has led Cincinnati to a 24-17-1 mark in three years, is just 1-4 against the Browns. And if they want to make it 1-5 against the former Heisman Trophy winner, Cleveland will need these three X-factors to step up.
3. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE
One of the first moves Cleveland made this offseason was to sign pass rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo who spent the 2022 season with the Houston Texans. Okoronkwo, who was originally a fifth-round pick for the Los Angeles Rams out of Oklahoma.
In three seasons with L.A., he had 34 tackles with 4.5 sacks while primarily coming off the bench. He finally got a chance to start in Houston and responded with 44 tackles and five sacks — more than doubling his totals from his time in L.A.
When he signed with Cleveland, Okoronkwo was poised to start across from Myles Garrett. That changed when they traded for Za'Darius Smith, who had 10 sacks with Minnesota last year.
Even though he's coming off the bench again, Okoronkwo is expected to shine in Jim Schwartz' defense. He should be on the field often, especially on third-downs and his speed-rushing could be a major problem for Joe Burrow who is coming off a calf injury.
He might not be a huge name, but he can be a major factor in Week 1.