3 Reasons the Browns Will Upset the Panthers in Week 1

Devon Platana
Three reasons why the Cleveland Browns will upset the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.
Three reasons why the Cleveland Browns will upset the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. / AP Photos/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season is just over 24 hours away from beginning. As usual, most of the action takes place on Sunday, including a clash between the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers. FanDuel currently lists the Panthers as the slight 1.5-point favorites at home.

Having said that, the spread is small enough that the Browns could conceivably upset the Panthers. Cleveland has a solid team and if Deshaun Watson wasn't suspended, the lines would look different. If Kevin Stefanski's players play their cards right, an upset could be around the corner.

Here are three reasons why the Browns will upset the Panthers in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.

Browns vs Panthers Week 1

1. Cleveland's Superior Defense

While the Browns' offense is lacking without Watson under center, their defense is still projected to be better than most. In fact, Cleveland's defenders only gave up 311.5 total yards per game in 2021 — third best in the NFL. The likes of Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah can make life extremely difficult for opposing offenses, while two-time Pro-Bowler Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II are great at shutting down the passing game. With Baker Mayfield still building chemistry with his Panthers teammates, the Browns need their defenders to live up to the hype and be as disruptive as possible.

2. Browns' Running Game

The Browns were one of the most run-heavy teams last year, averaging 145.4 yards on the ground (No. 4) on 28.5 attempts (No. 8) per game. Although the Panthers were decent against the run, that wasn't the case for their home games. Carolina surrendered 126.3 rushing yards at Bank of America Stadium in 2021, ranking ninth-worst. With Jacoby Brissett as the quarterback, the Browns will likely rely on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to do a lot of damage out of the backfield. If the Panthers aren't better at stopping the run compared to last year, Cleveland's constant ground attack could do some real damage.

3. The Browns' Knowledge of Baker Mayfield

All eyes will be on Mayfield to see if he can stick it to his former team. The only problem with that is that the Browns know the veteran QB better than anyone else. Between the 60 games played in a Cleveland uniform and the countless practice sessions over four years, the Browns know all of Mayfield's weaknesses and strengths, which they'll no doubt use in their game plan. Stefanski knows how his former gunslinger thinks and just how much getting sacked can throw him off his game, which is why fans should expect to see an endless onslaught from Garrett and Clowney. Unless Mayfield has learned some new tricks with the Panthers, the Browns should be more than prepared to handle anything he throws at them — both literally and figuratively.

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Devon Platana is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Devon Platana also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username PepeSilvia0. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.