The Browns overhauled a defense that could not stop giving up big plays last season. The Bengals' defense ranked sixth in points given up but lost three starters in the secondary. Who looks better on paper heading into week one?
Browns: Myles Garrett/Dalvin Tomlinson/Shelby Harris/Za'Darius Smith/Ogbo Okoronkwo/Maurice Hurst II/Siaki Ika/Jordan Elliott
Bengals: Sam Hubbard/DJ Reader/BJ Hill/Trey Hendrickson/Cam Sample/Josh Tupou/Zach Carter/Joseph Ossai
The Bengals front four can create havoc with Hendrickson and Hubbard getting to the quarterback from the edge and B.J. Hill and D.J. Reader eating up blockers in the middle. The rotation is young but has some talent. They finished the year second against the run and this line had a lot to do with that.
The Browns overhauled the defensive line heading into 2023 and now have potentially one of the best edge duos in football with Garrett and Smith. Combine those two with the steady play of Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris, and the front looks great. Add the depth of Okoronkwo and preseason sensation Maurice Hurst, and the line looks as though it could be sensational.
The additional of talent pushes gives the Browns the edge over the Bengals heading into 2023.
Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah/Anthony Walker Jr./Sione Takitaki/Matthew Adams/Mohamoud Diabate/Tony Fields II
Bengals: Logan Wilson/Germaine Pratt/Akeem Davis-Gaither/Joe Bachie/Markus Bailey
Germaine Pratt leads the way for the Bengals linebackers with an 80.6 Pro Football Focus rating.
He combined with Logan Wilson to form a formidable duo, and each started 15 games for the Bengals. The rest of the group totaled two starts between them, although Baily and Davis-Gaither did see time in 16 games each last year.
The Browns come into the season with two linebackers coming off major injuries and one that took a step back last year. Anthony Walker Jr. is the leader of this group and was playing some of the best football of his career last year before his season ended.
Sione Takitaki stepped in and was playing well until his season ended with an injury after 12 games. The Browns are banking on both coming back strong in 2023.
They also need former second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to have a bounce-back season since he is the most talented linebacker on the roster. Mohamoud Diabate made enough noise in camp and preseason to make the team, but it remains to be seen with the young undrafted linebacker.
The edge here has to go to the Bengals with the injuries and questions surrounding the Browns group.