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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Third Quarter

This is where I think the Bengals offense starts to hit their rhythm. Even if they can't get Ja'Marr Chase going down the field, having a trio of receivers able to work in the short-to-intermediate range just puts so much pressure on a defense.

The Cleveland pass rush won't have enough time to get home on a lot of those screens and short routes, and quick releases will keep Burrow upright and let him get away with having limited mobility.

The missed preseason that could cause a slow start for Burrow won't be a factor anymore by the second half, and he's going to start rolling.

That also means worse field position for the Browns' offense, and Watson could start running into some issues if he feels like he needs to start forcing the ball against the Bengals' secondary.

Third quarter score prediction: 14-7 Bengals
Score after three; 24-14 Bengals

Fourth Quarter

The Bengals are not typically a team that's going to sit back and just run the football with a lead, especially when their short-passing game is clicking. Protecting Burrow might change that philosophy a little bit in Week 1, so they may not have the punch to really pull away.

Having the game close in the fourth also means the Browns won't have to get away from their bread and butter with Chubb, and we've all seen just how much better he gets by the fourth quarter.

Increased rushing efficiency is going to give Cleveland a great time-of-possession number in the fourth, but ultimately Watson won't quite be up to the task of keeping up with Burrow when he needs to.

Fourth quarter score: 10-3 Browns
Final score: 27-24 Bengals

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