It has been a productive offseason for the Cleveland Browns, filling roster holes and putting together a good roster. But the wait for regular season football is finally over as the Browns clash with the in-state rival Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday. Superstars Nick Chubb and Myles Garrett will finally be back in action.
It will be a true test for the Browns to start the season playing against one of the best teams in the AFC right out of the gate. It was confirmed on Wednesday that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be on the field despite the calf injury he sustained in training camp. They have rebuilt the offensive line in Cincinnati to protect Burrow and the Browns defense has got to get after the passer if they want to win Sunday.
The Browns could make a statement if they go out and beat the Bengals in this game, here are my four bold predictions for this matchup.
The Browns will sack Joe Burrow 4 times
This will be one of the biggest keys to a Browns win if they can make Burrow uncomfortable on Sunday. Myles Garrett has historically been productive against the Bengals and has gotten the best of new right tackle Jonah Williams in the past as well as new left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
Now Garrett has the most help he has ever had across from him on the defensive line. It is time for the talent to produce on the field and this pass rush should be a strength for the Browns defense.
Mixing in Jim Schwartz’s scheme and ability to maximize the talent on the defense line and this team’s pass rush could cause some major headaches for the Bengals on Sunday.
Nick Chubb will rush for 150 yards
Nick Chubb has historically played pretty well against Cincinnati and now should get more help than he is used to. The Browns passing attack has all the tools to be prolific and that just means fewer players in the box to try and slow down Chubb.
Add the fact that the offensive line is healthy and Chubb has a good chance to have a big day for the Browns. They have diversified the shotgun run game and with the threats of the run-pass option with Deshaun Watson the Browns could create some favorable matchups for Chubb.
The Browns run defense holds Joe Mixon under 100 yards
The Browns had a historically bad run defense last year, especially from the defensive tackle group which saw a complete overhaul. Veterans Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris have been more than competent against the run over their careers. You add in rookie Siaki Ika who can at least stop the run and this group should be significantly better.
Ogbo Okoronkwo had some nice plays against the run during the preseason and Za’Darius Smith is effective as well. The Browns know that the pass rush is the strength of the defense and will be prepared to limit the run and let these talented rushers get after Joe Burrow.
The Browns will beat the Bengals 27-20
With all the noise and narratives this offseason the Browns need to win this game in Cleveland. Not only do they need to steal a game in the division out of the gate but they need to show fans they are not just paper champs again and that they can produce on the field.
I don’t think that Joe Burrow will be hindered much in this game but if he isn’t as mobile the Browns must make him uncomfortable. Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt gave the keys to the offense to Watson this offseason and Andrew Berry gave him plenty of weapons and it’s time to get it done on the field.