The good news was that the Cleveland Browns went into today looking to open the season on a good note. The bad news is they went into Baltimore and had to face the defending division champ Ravens and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson.
The Browns started the game trying to establish the run, but a league-best front-seven showed why they are among one of the top defenses in the NFL. After a punt, the Ravens went to work scoring the game’s first TD when Jackson found tight end Mark Andrews for the game’s first points. The Browns would respond when Baker Mayfield found wide-open tight end David Njoku for the Browns’ first TD. Putting the game at 10-6 Ravens at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Jackson continued his charge leading the Ravens down the field on a 10-play 99-yard drive which was capped off by running back J.K. Dobbins. With 35 seconds left before halftime, the Ravens would score again when Jackson would find TE Mark Andrews again in the endzone to put the game at 24-6 Ravens at the half.
The third quarter was more of the same as Jackson found receiver Willie Snead for a 19-yard touchdown to make the game 31-6 going into the fourth quarter. Mercifully, the scoring stopped early in the fourth when J.K. Dobbins scored on a two-yard run to make the score 38-6 in favor of the Ravens.
The Browns haven’t won a season opener since 2004.
The good thing about this season is that the Browns can bounce back. Stefanski is a good coach and the turnovers are something that can be corrected in practice. I believe that the Browns are a good team and will show that this season.
With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield, the run game will be important this season to take the stress off of Mayfield to make plays or force throws that aren’t needed.
The Browns have a short week this week as they welcome their in-state rival Cincinnati Bengals to town on Thursday. So these issues will need to be corrected before then. On the bright side, the Browns defense did show that they can generate a turnover. The problem with that was that the offense didn’t help. Staying on the field too long put the defense in a bad position which helped the Ravens score 38 points.
Despite this, I expect the Browns to have a good week and bounce back against the Bengals. The defense is good enough to get stops and turnovers when needed, and with a young, unproven Joe Burrow at quarterback and a questionable offensive line, Myles Garrett should have a field day getting to the quarterback.
Prediction: Browns will continue their new dominance against the cats and win 24-12.