The Browns home and season opener is finally here. The club struggled all year last year, going a league worst 1-15. How will they stack up in their home opener?
Well first of all, the Browns have lost 13 of their last 14 season openers since the team returned to the league in 1999. It’s difficult for the fans who have had to deal with front office changes, coaching changes and player changes on a pretty regular basis. Every offseason we are told by (insert every former coaches name here) how that year would be different, only to get the same results. But things are a little bit different this year. The Browns added some talent through both the draft and through free agency. In true Browns fashion however, number one overall pick, Myles Garrett injured his ankle in practice, and will miss week one, and probably several more.
The Steelers are the biggest rival to the Browns, and they come into the season pretty well loaded with talent. Although the rivalry has been one sided for the past 14 years, it’s still a big game for the Browns and the fans. Led by Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ offense is very capable of a big play at just about anytime. Wide receiver, Martavis Bryant is back from being suspended all of last year after multiple failed drug tests. Pro Bowl wide receiver, Antonio Brown and superstar running back, Le’veon Bell, make every play a potential big play. The much improved defense of the Browns will need to come up big today if they hope to stay in the game and make it competitive. The absence of Garrett hurts, the number one overall pick was thought to be a big time difference maker for the Browns’ defensive front. The rookie not playing doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the team, but his presence on the field would have freed up other players to attack the run and get after Big Ben. Thankfully, the Browns do have some very good players on defense, and a new defensive scheme that looked great during the preseason. However, the regular season is much different, and the Steelers are a very high caliber team.
The Browns will be led on offense by quarterback, DeShone Kizer. The rookie QB is very raw, but shows some really nice flashes of being a good NFL quarterback. He seems to have the smarts and know how in the position, but it’s yet to be seen if he will be able to make adjustments on the fly, and how he’ll be able to read an NFL defense, especially one like the Steelers who have several solid playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Cleveland added two elite linemen to play alongside perennial pro bowler, Joe Thomas, that will hopefully sure up their porous o-line from last year. That is key this year because it should help protect Kizer, as well as buy him time in the pocket to make better decisions. In addition to helping Kizer, it should hopefully open the running game for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.
As a fan, I want to predict a season opening upset over the Steelers. That would be amazing, but I just don’t see it happening logically. The Steelers have so much talent, and the Browns are very young. I think the Steelers will ruin today’s home/season opener for the Browns, and win the game 27-13. I think the Browns will play well, but the Steelers will be too much to handle.
Some things to watch for:
- Joe Haden, how will he impact the game now that he is with the Steelers, after being cut by the Browns.
- Jabril Peppers, how will rookie defensive back play in his first NFL game.
- Will the upgraded offensive line of the Browns make an impact.
- Will rookie quarterback, Deshone Kizer be able to prove his value as a starting QB.
- Will the Steelers’ offensive playmakers run wild.