The 2023 NFL regular season is here and the Cincinnati Bengals are set to open their season against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon. It's never fun to start with a division rival right out of the gates because Week 1 is such a crap shoot and these games are so important, especially in a highly-competitive division like the AFC North.
The Browns have been able to get the best of the Bengals in recent years but Bengals fans are hoping that last year's late-season win over Cleveland finally washed those problems away for good. The Browns made it a point to improve their defense this offseason and they'll be a dark-horse playoff candidate this year if all goes well for them.
With the game approaching, let's check out how the experts around the league are predicting this game to go.
Bengals vs Browns Week 1 predictions
Week 1 NFL picks: Chiefs unanimously predicted to top Lions; Jets will beat Bills in Aaron Rodgers' debut [Around the NFL Staff, NFL.com]
Of the five editors included here, only one picked the Browns to beat the Bengals. The article focused on why one of the four editors picked the Bengals and he said that while the Browns pass rush could be a challenge for the Bengals' offensive line, it's not wise to bet against Joe Burrow.
"Why Tom is taking the Bengals: It's hard to know what to expect from Deshaun Watson, who has yet to prove he can make it work in Kevin Stefanski's offense. I have far more faith in Joe Burrow, even with his inexistent training camp. Jim Schwartz and Cleveland's pass rush should provide a good litmus test for Orlando Brown Jr. and Cincy's reshuffled offensive line, but by Sunday evening, concerns about Burrow's calf strain will feel like they belong to a past life.- NFL.com
Prisco's Week 1 NFL picks: Bills spoil Aaron Rodgers' debut with Jets; Steelers, Packers pull off upsets [Pete Prisco, CBS Sports]
Prisco is going with a Bengals loss this weekend, noting that this is a tough game for the Bengals to start the season. It wouldn't be a huge shock if Cincinnati dropped this game given their struggles against Cleveland in recent years and the fact that their offensive starters didn't play at all this preseason. They got off to a slow start last year though and that worked out okay.
"Joe Burrow looks like he's a go in this one, which is big for the Bengals. The Browns have to hope Deshaun Watson is back to his form from his Texans days. If so, they have talent. This is a tough first game for the Bengals on the road against an in-state rival. Look for the Browns to pull this one out late as live underdog. "- Pete Prisco
2023 NFL Week 1: Expert Picks, Predictions For Every Game [Ryan Reynolds, The 33rd Team]
Reynolds predicts that the Bengals will win this game by four points. That seems like a realistic scenario as AFC North games tend to come down to the wire more often than not.