CLEVELAND — All things considered, it would have been tough for the Cleveland Browns' 2020 season opener to go any worse.
The Browns, however, won't have to wait long to get the taste of their 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday out of their mouth; in Week 2, they'll welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to FirstEnergy Stadium for a primetime matchup on Thursday Night Football.
Like Cleveland, the Bengals enter Week 2 in search of their first win of the season following their own Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. What follows is everything you need to know about the "Battle of Ohio," including the possible ramifications of Thursday's primetime matchup.
Game info, how to watch on TV, betting line:
Date: Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio
TV channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: CBS All Access
Radio: ESPN 850, 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX
Betting line: Cleveland -6
Over-under point total: 43.5
After suffering a blowout in their opener, there's no way around it: the Browns are going to need to play better to have any chance of breaking their NFL-long 17-year postseason drought. And while that rings true on both sides of the ball, it was particularly alarming to see Cleveland's offense appear as stagnant as it did against Baltimore.
“The quick turnaround just means you can’t dwell on the negative," Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said this week. "You are not going to beat yourself up throughout the week. You have too much to focus on. There was a lot to learn from that game. You do not necessarily want to completely forget about it. You want to improve, learn from it and get better moving forward.”
While the Browns and Bengals play twice every year, Thursday's game is especially notable as it will mark Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow's first appearance in "the Battle of Ohio."
A native of Athens, Ohio, Burrow began his college career at Ohio State before transferring to LSU, where he won the 2019 Heisman Trophy and led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff championship. Selected by the Bengals with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Burrow has plenty in common with Mayfield, who also won the Heisman Trophy before being drafted first overall in 2018.
“From the games that I saw him play last year, very decisive," Mayfield said of Burrow this week. "He gets the ball out and gives his guys a chance. I did not see them play the Chargers on offense, but real smooth, kind of looks like a field general back there. Obviously, I think he is an unbelievably talented guy, but I think his teammates love him and they really fight for him. That is what you can tell on TV."
While the NFL Playoffs may be expanded this season, the reality remains that 0-2 would make for a steep hole for Cleveland to climb out of. As a result, Thursday night's matchup marks about as close to a "must-win" as any game could be for a team this early in a season.
“I do because not only is it a loss, but it is in our division," Cleveland running back Nick Chubb answered when asked if he viewed Thursday night's contest as a must-win. "These are two big games for us. We need to be 1-1 after this week. I think it is a little pressure to get it because you do not want to 0-2.”