Cincinnati Bengals fans can let out their collective sigh of relief.
Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow is trending toward playing in Sunday’s season-opener against the Cleveland Browns, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Burrow returned to practice last week for the first time since suffering a strained right calf in late July. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said Monday that Burrow is still “day-to-day,” but offensive coordinator Brian Callahan provided a slightly more in-depth assessment.
“I think he’s in a good place and we got a good plan in place for him to get ready for Week 1,” Callahan said to reporters last week.
Burrow’s return for the start of the regular season is a good omen for Cincinnati’s title chances.
DraftKings Sportsbook gives the Bengals the fifth-best odds (+1100) to win the Super Bowl this season of any team in the league, according to a futures bet available Tuesday afternoon. The Bengals followed up their Super Bowl appearance after the 2022 season by going 12-4, winning the AFC North, and reaching the AFC Championship Game last season. Burrow threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns during his third NFL season and finished fourth in MVP voting.
Cincinnati’s chase for another memorable season begins with a divisional matchup in Cleveland.
Sunday is also notable for Cleveland’s starting QB, as it will mark Deshaun Watson’s first season-opener with the Browns. Watson was suspended 11 games last year for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He did not play the prior season for the Houston Texans amid a trade demand and allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
The Browns traded for Watson last March, then signed him to a $230 million, fully guaranteed deal. Watson went 3-3 in six starts last year, throwing seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
From betting odds to TV information, here’s everything else you need to know about this Week 1 AFC North matchup.
TV, Streaming Information for Bengals vs. Browns
The Bengals and Browns kick off their respective 2023 seasons at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The game will air on CBS for fans in either market. The game can also be streamed on NFL+, Paramount+, or through the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package.
Cincinnati and Cleveland went 1-1 against each other last season, with both teams winning at their home stadiums.
Cleveland’s Pass Rush Poised to Pressure Burrow
The Browns have been a problem for Burrow during his time in the NFL.
The former Heisman Trophy winner is 1-4 in five career starts against Cleveland. That is two more losses than Burrow has against any other NFL team over his 42 career games. The Browns have sacked Burrow 18 times over those five games, more than any other NFL team during his three-year career.
As to what sets the Browns pass rush apart from other teams he has faced, Burrow provided a simple answer before playing Cleveland last season.
“Well, they have Myles Garrett,” Burrow said in December, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s different from everybody else.”
Garrett has tallied double-digit sacks in each of the last five years. Last season, Garrett tied a career-high with 16 and set a career-best of 18 tackles for loss. The 27-year-old usually torments the Bengals offensive line on a semi-annual basis. That could continue on Sunday.
Bengals, Browns Both Hoping for Fast Starts in 2023
The AFC North rivals facing off in Cleveland on Sunday weren’t at their best to start the 2022 season. The Browns and Bengals are hoping that changes this time around.
Cleveland started out 2-5 last year before going .500 the rest of the way to finish at 7-10.
Cincinnati, fresh off its Super Bowl appearance, dropped its first two games of last season and stood at 4-4 after eight games. The Bengals then won eight straight to capture the division, but Cincinnati is hoping to match how it played during that stretch early in the 2023 campaign.
“We’ve got a divisional game right out of the gate,” Taylor said on NFL Network this summer. “That’s a big focus. Long-term focus is winning the division. That puts you in the best position to be in the playoffs and do the things you want to do there. Those goals remain the same for us: Start fast, win the division and this team is locked in on trying to accomplish that.
Betting Line, Over/Under on Bengals-Browns
Caesars Sportsbook lists the Bengals as a 2.5-point favorite over the Browns as of Tuesday afternoon. The over/under on the game is listed at 47.5 points.