The Mothership's Geoff Hobson unveiled the first installment of the Bengals Roundtable, a post in which sports writers associated with the Bengals and the team that they play talk a little about the week's matchup and predicts the winner. This week, Hobson got Solomon Wilcots, from NFL Network, Peter King, from Sports Illustrated, Tony Grossi, from The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and Vic Carucci, the senior editor of ClevelandBrowns.com.
The four analysts shared their thoughts on the Bengals first game against the Browns and picked who they thought would win. Here's what they had to say:
"This one is like the old days (in the '80s) when this game was a battle of running backs. James Brooks-Ickey Woods for the Bengals and Earnest Byner and Kevin Kack for the Browns.
"I'll go with the Bengals in the running game, but the Browns in the passing game. Quarterback Colt McCoy is pretty good. Mike Holmgren knew he had something special last year when (McCoy) went on the road and played so well in Pittsburgh as a rookie. He can make all the throws. He's very accurate like a Drew Brees kind of quarterback.
"Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is a guy that's played a lot of football and he's mature, but he showed some inaccuracy in the preseason. A couple of bad throws could be bad for him on Sunday. He's got to bow his neck and get better if adversity hits."
Wilcots didn't predict a score or a winner but it sounds like, from his description that it could be a close game.
"This is one of the most underrated and intriguing games of the weekend and I may be the only national guy that feels that way. I like the matchup of Dalton and McCoy as diminutive Texas college quarterbacks. I'm anxious to see how McCoy plays in the West Coast offense because the Browns are staking their future on it. And I'm anxious to see how much Dalton assimilates (new offensive coordinator) Jay Gruden's manic offense. I worry about the absense of (Bengals right guard) Bobbie Williams and the general shakiness of the offensive line in the preseason. And I hope for A.J. Green's sake that a veteran wide receiver emerges from Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson."
King took down this stat: The Bengals receivers have caught just 132 NFL passes heading into this one. He clearly think the more experienced offense wins this one.
King predicts that the Browns will win by a score of 33-13.
"In general, the (Browns) are playing witha lot of confidence up here. They're only 1-11 in season openers since they've been back in the league, but they've looked so much better with the new coach (Pat Shurmur)'s West Coast offense and the expectation is they should beat a rookie quarterback at home.
"I know the Bengals saw McCoy at the end of last year, but he's a different guy in this offense. He was really efficient in the offseason with four touchdown passes and one interception and the thing that is really different is they go for the end zone now instead of settling for field goals in the red zone. They don't have a No. 1 receiver so I guess if you say you have four good ones you don't have a No. 1, but any of the guys could be a one for them. And their tight ends (Moore had two TD catches in the preseason) have looked good.
"The Bengals are obviously running a new offense, but it's going to be to the Browns' advantage that they've practiced against it all camp.
"I just don't see how you get around the fact that you have a rookie quarterback playing the most important position in the sport. It's going to be a close game, but the Browns have the edge at home.
"But they can't underestimate the Bengals. They've got a good defense and they can run the ball."
Grossi still picks the Browns to win, but he doesn't think it will be a blowout like King does. He's predicting a score of 24-20.
"It's going to be a close, competitive game. I don't think you can assume they know each other. Not with the Browns having a new head coach and the Bengals having a new offensive coordinator. I think they're going to be feeling each other out early in the game.
"I have to give the edge to the Browns. Homefield advantage, going against a rookie quarterback, and coming off a good preseason."
Carucci doesn't predict a score, but he does give the Browns the edge for the win.
So not one of them picks the Bengals. Who care? I'm confident that the Bengals can win on Sunday. Either way it should be a close and fun game to watch.