The first primetime game and the first road game for the Cincinnati Bengals comes just four days after their season opener in a matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The game will be aired nationwide on NFL Network at 8:20 pm EST, giving NFL fans across the country their first chance to see Joe Burrow under the lights in a Bengals uniform.
Reviews of Burrow’s debut performance last Sunday against the Chargers range from underwhelming to commendable considering the circumstances: it being his first-ever game and how poorly his offensive line performed for most of the game. Still, Burrow isn’t starting his career by making any excuses.
Had Burrow’s go-ahead touchdown pass to A.J. Green not been nullified due to offensive pass interference, the narrative for this game would be significantly different. Instead, two 0-1 teams in the same division are playing on a short week in front of less than 10,000 fans along the shores of Lake Erie. Thankfully it isn’t quite Autumn yet. This is actually the earliest the Bengals have played at Cleveland since Week 1 of 2011, when A.J. Green and Andy Dalton were the rookies making their first road starts.
This is also the first Browns game that Geno Atkins will miss since Week of 2013. The eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle remains out with a shoulder injury and Mike Daniels will join him in street clothes on the sideline as he recovers from a nagging groin injury.
If the Browns could trade places in terms of player health, they probably would with WR Jarvis Landry, C JC Tretter, OT Jack Conklin and DE Olivier Vernon among those that are questionable for Thursday. They’ll for sure be without CB Greedy Williams and LB Mack Wilson, so the injury excuses for the Bengals can only take them so far.
We haven’t even covered the week that K Austin Siebert has had. The Browns fifth-round draft pick of 2019 missed his only two kicks against the Ravens on Sunday, was waived on Monday, and then was claimed on Tuesday by the Bengals. Siebert was essentially insurance for Cincinnati in case Randy Bullock (calves) couldn’t recover in time, but Bullock looks to be good to go. It’ll be hard for Siebert to get revenge against his old team if he ends up being inactive.
There’s a ton of energy and pressure behind 2020’s first installment of the Battle of Ohio. Follow this stream for all the latest news, updates, and analysis of the game!