The Browns draw the Bengals at the right time. Much has been made about how tough a season Cincinnati could have with rookie Andy Dalton replacing Carson Palmer at quarterback, but the Bengals have the talent to be competitive, and it wouldn't be surprising if they got better later in the season as Dalton settles into the job.
But it's hard to like Cincinnati's upset chances Sunday, even with Cleveland itself in a state of transition. The Browns' offensive scheme is brand new, as is the defensive scheme. There will be growing pains for Cleveland this year, too.
Nevertheless, the Browns should start the season with a "W." Their offense gave the Bengals problems in multiple ways in 2010, and their defense faces an offense that may struggle to stretch the field early in the season as Dalton and a young group of pass catchers find their way.
The Bengals could show some of their intriguing potential Sunday — perhaps an impressive A.J. Green catch here or a poise-beyond-his-years moment from Dalton there. But I don't think they will be able to win on the road in the season opener.
Predicted score: Browns 23, Bengals 17