The Browns come into the game off a humiliating 38-6 opening day loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was the darling of the league as a rookie, but since then his fortunes have taken a distinct nosedive. Despite being surrounded by some of the best offensive talent in the NFL, Mayfield continues to disappoint. The Browns will probably try to compensate for Mayfield’s failings by utilizing their superb duet of running backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as much as possible.
The Cincinnati defense will answer with a banged up defensive line that appears ripe for the taking. Prized free agent defensive tackle D.J. Reader was carted off the field in the third quarter of last week’s game. The Bengals’ other interior defensive line starter, Geno Atkins, is out for the game, as is backup defensive tackle Mike Daniels. Expect the Browns to try to exploit the Bengals’ defensive front with their running game early and often here.
The Bengals feature rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who is being hyped every bit as much as Mayfield was a few years ago. Burrow struggled in his NFL debut last week as the Bengals suffered a heartbreaking 16-13 loss the the Chargers. Despite an underwhelming performance overall, Burrow did manage to engineer a last minute drive that should have tied the game with a chip shot field goal, only to see the Bengals kicker botch the kick.
The Bengals have surrounded Burrow with an excellent group of offensive weapons, but a suspect offensive line. A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate and John Ross are a dangerous group of receivers, and Joe Mixon is an excellent running back. The tools are there for the Bengals to put together a top offense, If Burrow and the offensive line hold up their end of the bargain.
The Browns have some tough pass rushers, led by Myles Garrett, who should keep Burrow on the run tonight. Ideally the Bengals should look to pound the ball with Mixon and take some pressure off of Burrow early in his career.
It’s the Browns and the Bengals in a matchup of former QB wunderkind Mayfield against this year’s version, Burrow, in the Battle of Ohio on Thursday Night Football. Enjoy the game everybody.