The NFL season is officially underway, and the Cleveland Browns will head to Carolina to face the Panthers in a week one showdown. This game has had all the hype in the world around it since former Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers in early July.
The Cleveland Browns have a lot of unknowns coming into the game and most of them are on the offensive side of the ball. The Brown’s backup quarterback and now a starter for the next 11 games, while we wait for the Deshaun Watson suspension to be over, is Jacoby Brissett. Brissett only played in the last preseason game vs the Chicago Bears and the offense didn’t look good. There were too many dropped passes and the ball just couldn’t move down the field.
Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and Amari Cooper did not play in that preseason game and those three guys will most likely be the most important part of the offense all season long.
The Browns lost cornerback Greedy Williams to a hamstring injury on Friday, and he was placed on the IR which means he will miss the next four games.
The rookie cornerback from Mississippi State Martin Emerson Jr. will take the place of Williams and most likely be the third cornerback on the field when the opposing team goes into a three wide receiver set.
Let’s look at the Carolina Panthers and see how the Cleveland Browns matchup with them this Sunday.
Browns Defense vs. Panthers Offense
As everyone knows the Carolina Panthers have a new signal caller in Baker Mayfield so this will be his first real NFL game as their starting quarterback. Every Brown’s fan knows that Mayfield is an inconsistent mess when he is playing football. There are times he looks like he is a top ten quarterback and then there are times when he probably shouldn’t see the field. Nobody has any idea what Mayfield is going to show up on Sunday but if it’s top ten quarterback Mayfield the Browns could have a long day.
The Carolina Panthers also have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been a walking injury the last two seasons, but when he plays, he is still one of the best playmakers in the entire NFL.
McCaffrey can destroy the Browns in the running game and in the receiving game. The Browns are going to have to be very careful in stopping the run and making sure they are always on him when Mayfield steps back to throw.
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The Carolina Panthers has a nice receiving core in D.J Moore, Robbie Anderson, Terrance Marshall, and Laviska Shenault. Moore is one of the best receivers in the league and Brown’s cornerback Denzel Ward is going to have to have a day with him. The Browns are very lucky to have one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL and they are going to have a real test in week one.
The Carolina Panthers’ offensive line is one of their weakest units. The Panthers spent their first-round pick on Ikem Ekwonu the left tackle out of North Carolina State and he is going to have a handful on Sunday afternoon. The Brown’s defensive ends Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are going to make sure he has a welcome to the NFL-type moment on Sunday.
I think the Brown’s defense matchups with the Panther’s offense very well and I think the Brown’s defense is going to have to keep them in this game.
Browns Offense vs. Panthers Defense
The Carolina Panthers’ defense is nothing to mess around about. They are not talked about as one of the best defenses in the NFL, but they have some guys that can just play football.
The Carolina Panthers have one of the strongest defensives of lines in the NFL. Their defensive end Brian Burns is a great football player, and he is going to be making plays in the Brown’s backfield. The Panthers also have two good defensive tackles in Derrick Brown and Matt Ioannidis.
The Carolina Panthers’ back seven has some real studs. Linebacker Shaq Thompson can fly all over the field and make plays. Safety Jeremy Chinn is one of the best safeties in the NFL and Brissett is going to have to watch him all day. Cornerbacks Donte Jackson, C.J Henderson, and Jaycee Horn are going to have to be watched for.
Jackson has been a solid corner throughout his career, and I think he will show it on Sunday. Henderson was a high draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020 and wasn’t very good there. Maybe a change of scenery will help him but only time will tell. Horn was a first-round pick in the 2021 draft but got hurt early in the 2021 season and missed the year.
The Cleveland Browns haven’t won a season opener since 2004 and I wouldn’t feel great about this one. Brown’s defense is going to show up and play but the offense has a way to many unknowns to make anybody feel comfortable that they are going to be able to score points.
I think Brown’s defense keeps the Browns in the game for so long, but the offense can’t find ways to move the ball and score and the Browns start their 2022 season 0-1.
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