The Cincinnati Bengals kick off the 2023 regular season on the road against the Cleveland Browns. As Bengals fans are well aware, the Browns have had Cincinnati's number in recent years, but it's a new year and another chance for the Stripes to try and win their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
To prepare for the game, I reached out to Randy Gurzi of Dawg Pound Daily, FanSided's site dedicated to the Cleveland Browns, and asked him some questions about the match-up. Check out our conversation below.
Bengals vs Browns x-factors, predictions, and more
Q: What are the expectations for the Browns heading into this season?
Randy: Clearly, they weren’t satisfied with their 7-10 finish which is why they went on to make the moves they did. And paying $230 million for a quarterback means they expect to be competing for titles at some point. But a realistic expectation now is to stay in the AFC North race and secure a Wild Card spot at a minimum. Once they’re in the playoffs, anything can happen.
Q: The Browns have notoriously had Cincinnati's number over the past few years. Why do you think that is?
Randy: Cleveland has built a roster they think can contend with high-octane passing attacks. They have good cornerbacks who are able to play man coverage but the main catalyst is their pass rush. While it wasn’t elite last year, they did still have Myles Garrett who was dominant. His ability to get after the quarterback coupled with Cincinnati’s issues on the O-line has been a perfect storm for the Browns.
Q: Who is the biggest X-factor in this game for the Browns?
Randy: A name to watch is Ogbo Okoronkwo. The Bengals are likely going to focus on slowing down Garrett and Za’Darius Smith, but if Okoronkwo is out there and doesn’t get enough attention, he can make life tough on the quarterback. If he can generate some pressure, he can make a huge impact, especially on third-downs.
Q: Aside from Joe Burrow, who is a player on the Bengals roster that makes Browns fans nervous?
Randy: Ja’Marr Chase. The man is so good and his ability to be exactly where Joe Burrow needs him to be is huge for the Bengals. Yes, the Browns have solid corners but Chase is an elite receiver that can change the game in a hurry.
Q: The Browns will win this game if ______
Randy: Deshaun Watson plays the way he’s expected to.
There will be points scored by the Bengals and there will be times the defense gets the better of them. But for the Browns to win, they have to score points of their own and that going to come down to Watson. The rust should be gone now, as are the excuses.
Q: Give us your score prediction.
Randy: Last year, the Bengals started out slow…so I’m hoping for more of the same (sorry). I see Cleveland taking this one 27-24
There you have it! Randy is picking the Browns to take down the Bengals in Week 1 and he also thinks that Okoronkwo will be the biggest X-factor in the game. Okoronkwo joined the Browns in the offseason and had five sacks with the Houston Texans last year.
Thanks again to Randy Gurzi for taking the time to answer my questions! Be sure to check out Dawg Pound Daily for content on the Cincinnati Bengals' opponent this week.