3 Matchups that will make or break the Browns in Week 1

• Nightmare for Williams

• Who is on the case for Chase

• Relentless motor vs lack thereof

Washington Commanders v Cleveland Browns
Washington Commanders v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Matchup No. 1: Jamar Chase vs ?

As every Browns fan already knows, Denzel Ward suffered a concussion in the Browns preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was Ward’s fourth documented concussion since entering the NFL in 2018. Head injuries are scary and are an unfortunate byproduct of playing a violent game and should be taken extremely seriously.

Ward’s latest concussion could not have come at a worse time for the Browns. When you play a team with the talent that the Bengals have at wide receiver and at quarterback, it is all hands on deck; especially in the secondary.

But the Browns received some encouraging news on Wednesday when Ward was able to return to the practice field. However, Ward is still in concussion protocol but is far enough along to practice on a limited basis.

But as long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks, Ward is trending towards being available for the 100th Battle of Ohio. And if he is available, he will draw one of the toughest matchups in the NFL in the Bengals’ Jamar Chase. As talented as the Cincinnati wide receiver room is, there's no doubt that Chase is their clear wide receiver No. 1.

In fact, in a league full of dynamic receivers, Chase is already arguably in the top five at his position. He's a cheat code that unlocks a portion of Burrow’s game that otherwise would not strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. With the ability to turn Burrows 50/50 deep balls into 90/10 balls, Chase provides a threat that exists whenever he is on the field that must be respected.

Chase has admitted in the past that Ward is a player that he gets up to play against. After the Browns 41-16 victory in 2021, where Ward jumped one of Chase’s routes at the goal line and took it back to the house for a pick-six, Chase publicly stated that going forward it was ‘on sight’ when he plays Ward. While some took it as Chase throwing shade at Ward, the reality is that it was a sign of respect.

Ward and Newsome have only squared off twice, with each player having their moments. If the Browns are going to slow down the Bengals offense on Sunday, Ward will need to have more moments than Chase. If it is truly ‘on sight’ fans should be in for quite a battle.

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