Quarter-by-Quarter Predictions for Browns vs. Bengals Week 1 Matchup

Will a low-scoring first quarter help set the table for a Browns upset?

Deshaun Watson and the Browns project to keep it close with the Bengals in Week 1.
Deshaun Watson and the Browns project to keep it close with the Bengals in Week 1. / Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports
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NFL fans are itching for Week 1 action to get underway, and I know you don't want me making you slog through a long intro here. You want to get right down to it, and I don't blame you.

Browns fans don't need me to tell them how important a home game over the AFC North favorites is to kick off the season, and this is a game that can really set the tone in Cleveland for the whole year.

Here's a quarter-by-quarter prediction for how we see the Browns vs. Bengals Week 1 matchup going.

Browns vs. Bengals Week 1 Predictions: Quarter by Quarter

First Quarter

The first quarter in Week 1 is always a bit of a weird spot. We often see offenses look really good early in games, since the first series of scripted plays is usually on point. But Week 1 also typically starts off with some rust, especially for guys like Joe Burrow who didn't get run in the preseason.

With Burrow needing to build confidence following his injury and the Browns having one of the NFL's most dangerous pass rushes, Cincinnati probably won't take many shots early.

Cleveland's secondary can be beat on those shorter throws, but it's hard to complete enough to sustain many long drives when you're struggling to take any shots.

On the other side of the ball, expect Nick Chubb to get things going early while Watson has some scripted easy completions to start building his momentum.

All signs point to a low-scoring first quarter, though I think the Bengals are able to get themselves into scoring range at least once.

First quater score prediction: 3-0 Bengals
Score after one: 3-0 Bengals

Second Quarter

The second quarter is when things should open up a bit.

With a handful of completions under his belt on screens and short passes, Watson will get to open up the playbook and start trying to make some plays. Stretching the defense vertically will also go a long way to clearing out room for Chubb to start doing some damage.

The Bengals struggle in run defense as it is, and being forced to try stopping Chubb without getting to pull a safety up into the box is going to be a real issue.

On the other side of the ball, Joe Mixon could be doing a little damage at this stage, but not nearly as much as RBs were doing last year before the Browns overhauled their defensive front.

When Burrow does start trying to take some shots down the field, he's going to find himself facing a ton of pressure and taking a lot of hits. Cleveland will really test out just how healthy that calf is.

The Cincy offense is too good to shut down entirely for a whole half, but they're also not going to rip off enough explosive plays to hang a big first-half score.

Second quarter score prediction: 7-7 tie
Halftime score: 10-7 Bengals

Now, can the Browns come back from that small deficit in the second half?