Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers – NFL Week 1 Game Preview

"Carolina Panthers FanFest" by James Willamor is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Cleveland Browns will travel down to Bank of America Stadium to take on the Carolina Panthers. While this may seem like a game between two below-average teams on paper, there is a lot more going into this game behind the scenes. In the offseason, the Browns would trade their then backup quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Panthers. Since he joined the Panthers, Mayfield has impressed coaches in training camp and he was named as the day one starter for the Panthers this season. There is still a lot of bad blood between Mayfield and the Browns and there is a chance that it could spill onto the field during the game. Along with this, the Panthers will also be rejoined by elite running back Christian McCafferty. McCafferty has had a terrible string of injuries that have kept him sidelined for the majority of the past two seasons. Without him on the field, the Panthers have greatly struggled, however, with Mayfield and McCafferty, the Panthers are hopeful to have a bounceback season. On the flip side, the Browns’ season is on autopilot through their first eleven games until Watson can rejoin the team. Despite neither team being at the top of the league at the moment, this could be one of the most entertaining games in week one.

Cleveland Browns Attempt to Stay Afloat Without Deshaun Watson

As previously mentioned, the Cleveland Browns will be without Deshaun Watson for the first eleven games of the season. Taking his place is Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is a quality backup option, however, there is an enormous drop-off in talent from Watson to him. Cleveland will be heavily relying on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the running game to carry the offense not only in this game against the Panthers but throughout the first eleven games of the year for the Browns. However, one of the most talented defenses in the league, this is still a very winnable game for Cleveland. They know Mayfield’s game inside and out after his time with them, and will definitely be trying to use this to their advantage. This game may end up being a defensive battle without much offense between either team. 

Carolina Panthers Look to Assist Baker Mayfield Revenge Game

The Carolina Panthers have fully embraced the Baker Mayfield experience and will do everything in their power to help him have his revenge game against his former team. Many feel as if Cleveland turned their back on Mayfield after a down season playing through an injury. He is a player that is at his best when he is the underdog and can play with a chip on his shoulder. That is exactly the scenario that he finds himself in for the opening week and it will be interesting to see if he can lead the Panthers’ offense to a big day against an elite Cleveland defense. This game for the Panthers will be in Mayfield’s hands and this is a game that he wants to win more than anything. Carolina is 2.5 point favorites coming into the game, however, many have wondered if they have enough to take down the Browns even without Watson.