After an offseason brimming with controversy, the Carolina Panthers plays host to the Cleveland Browns in what is being billed as the Baker Mayfield grudge match. Notable absences come in the form of Deshaun Watson, with the $230m Browns QB set to miss the first 6 games of the season through suspension.
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Browns vs Panthers Highlights
The Bank of America Stadium welcomes the Cleveland Browns for the first time since December 2014, with all eyes on the Panther’s new franchise quarterback. After a disappointing 5-12 season in which both Cam Newton and Sam Darnold posted losing records, the introduction of Baker Mayfield after an ugly exit from the Browns brought a glimmer of hope to a team that hasn’t produced a winning season since 2017.
Conversely, a resurgent Browns put the 0-16 days of old behind them, albeit unable to replicate the success of the 2019 season last year with an 8-9 finish. The introduction of former Texans QB Deshaun Watson gave hope to long-suffering fans in Ohio, but subsequent charges relating to off-field activity have rendered him inactive for the season start. This is reflected in the NFL betting odds for the season opener.
The return of a fully-fit Christian McAffrey brings further reassurance to the Panther’s offense in both backfield and receiving capabilities, alongside a stabilized offensive line with the introduction of highly acclaimed rookie Ickey Ekwonu (North Carolina State University). The Browns are likely to look to the experience of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the early games of the season, with the Panthers giving up an average of 113 yards per game in the 2021 season.
Those looking to bet on NFL games, including this Cleveland Browns vs Carolina Panthers matchup, should back the Panthers to cover the spread. They will surely continue a winning record of 4-2 against the Browns, having never previously lost to the Browns on home turf.