Browns Make Massive Statement With Season-Opening Rout

The Browns proved they're ready to contend this year with a dominant Week 1 performance.

The Browns had their way with the Bengals on Sunday, proving they're legitimate contenders in the AFC.
The Browns had their way with the Bengals on Sunday, proving they're legitimate contenders in the AFC. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

After drumming up a lot of hype in the offseason, the Browns needed a strong showing in Week 1 to prove they were legit. Especially against Joe Burrow and the Bengals, who they must go through if they want to win the AFC North.

And boy, did Cleveland show up. The Browns absolutely crushed Cincinnati, dominating their division rivals in a 24-3 blowout that took many NFL observers by surprise (but not us).

Browns vs Bengals Week 1

Let's start with the defense, which we all expected to be a strength this year. It more than lived up to the hype, pitching a shutout in the first half and yielding just a third-quarter field goal.

More impressively, it completely silenced Burrow. Just days after signing the biggest contract in NFL history, Burrow went just 14-for-31 with 82 passing yards and was pulled in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.

So yeah, the defense did its job and then some. This is going to be a fearsome unit, and we just put the whole AFC on notice.

There was more uncertainty around the offense, especially given how poorly Deshaun Watson played after coming back from his suspension last year. We all hoped it was just rust and expected him to be better this season, but how much better was a real question mark.

Fortunately, Watson quieted those doubts with a solid performance. After getting off to a slow start, he rallied for 154 passing yards, 45 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, including one on the ground. Not spectacular, but enough to get the job done, plus he outdueled Burrow.

Watson didn't have to be amazing anyways, because the ground game was stellar, as expected. Nick Chubb led the way with 106 rushing yards on 18 carries, plus another 21 receiving yards. By comparison, Cincinnati only had 75 rushing yards as a team.

So overall, it was a complete and well-balanced performance against a Super Bowl favorite. If Cleveland keeps playing like this on both sides of the ball, it's going to be very difficult to beat.

This was the kind of game that can set the tone for the season, and the Browns passed their first test with flying colors. The rest of the league better watch out, because the sky's the limit for the Browns this year.

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