The Browns had a dreadful Week 1 in Baltimore. They lost 38-6 and were outplayed by the Ravens. The offense, for all but one drive, couldn’t develop any traction due to a mix of dropped passes, near interceptions and a lack of time for Baker Mayfield to throw the ball. The defense was gashed by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens with massive holes in the Browns secondary and linebacking core being exposed as there were many wide-open receivers for Jackson to hit for easy yardage. The special teams group was incompetent as well with kicker Austin Seibert missing his lone field goal and extra-point attempts, along with a failed fake punt setting the Ravens up with fantastic field position in the first quarter.
The Bengals also had a disappointing Week 1 – but for a different reason. Cincinnati allowed 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to the Chargers before a questionable pass interference call negated what would have been the game-winning touchdown. Kicker Randy Bullock missed a 31-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow wasn’t fantastic, but the Bengals defense played well and put the team in a position to shock the Chargers in their opener.
The Browns will have to play significantly better than they did in Baltimore to beat the Bengals. They still have significantly more talent on their roster than the Bengals do, but if they can’t put it together they will be beaten.
HERE ARE THE FIVE KEYS TO BEATING THE BENGALS
1. Get OBJ Going Early
A major reason for the Browns offensive woes in Baltimore was a lack of production from Odell Beckham Jr. He caught just three passes for 22 yards, despite having 10 passes thrown his way. He dropped a ball that hit him in the hands on a third and two late in the first half. If caught, the Browns could have scored a late touchdown and been within a score of the Ravens at the break. Instead, a missed field goal and a long drive from the Ravens meant the Browns trailed by 18 at halftime. If the Browns can bring OBJ into the fold, they can force the Bengals linebackers to respect the pass opening up room for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.