Game time is Thursday at 8:20 pm ED
BROWNS (-6.5) over Bengals (45)
Jared’s Pick: Browns
Breakout Player: WR Jarvis Landry
The Browns did not look good in Sunday’s 32-point loss to the Ravens but the Ravens are one of the hardest teams to have a season opener against – especially after this tough offseason. On paper, the Browns have one of the best offensive rosters in the NFL with star players like WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and TEs David Njoku and Austin Hooper. Even though Baltimore’s defense is among the league’s best, six points in four quarters is inexcusable for that Cleveland offense.
It's too early to count the Browns out because they’ve clearly improved this offseason on offense, specifically on the offense line. Once OBJ gets going, he'll be extremely hard to stop in the passing game. Besides Cincinnati’s defensive line, they do not have a strong defense so I can see Week 2 being a big boost for Baker Mayfield and this Cleveland offense. It’s hard to make assumptions about Cleveland’s defense after a game against arguably the NFL’s most explosive offense, but they definitely did not look good. I don’t see this defense being anywhere close to elite in 2020 even with stars DE Myles Garrett and CB Denzel Ward. The Browns also took a huge loss this offseason after rookie S Grant Delpit ended his season early with a torn Achilles. Week 2 can definitely be a bounce back week for Cleveland, but I don't see the Browns contending in 2020.
Bengals’ first overall pick QB Joe Burrow definitely showed some signs in his first game, against the Chargers, of being exactly what the team needs. His stats weren’t great, but he did show he can run the ball with a 23-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. The Chargers defense isn't bad, even without star S Derwin James.
Even though Cincy's last drive ended with a disappointing missed field goal by K Randy Bullock, Burrow’s final drive was amazing. He marched the team 69 yards down the field in 14 plays with less that four minutes remaining. Once Burrow has an offensive line and a few more weapons, he will definitely lead this team to victory. Right now, not many, if any, quarterbacks could do that. Cincinnati’s defense will hold this team back for the next few years if they don’t start to add some real pieces. Aside from the line, their defense is a mess. Surprisingly they only let up 16 points to an offense with Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams. There is definitely a future for this team with Burrow, but they need to make a big splash this offseason.