Week 3 Preview: Ravens at Browns

| September 20, 2014 | 1 Comments

ravensWeek 3 Preview: Ravens at Browns

Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

At

Cleveland Browns (1-1)

Sunday 1pm at Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH

Line: Ravens -2

The Ravens look to get their second straight win when they travel to the “mistake by the lake” to take on the Browns in yet another division game early in the season. The rivalry between these two teams is intense but has been one-sided since Joe Flacco has been the Ravens quarterback (the Browns only win in the Flacco era came last season). Both teams, coming off big home wins, sit with one division loss and neither want to lose a second division game. The Ravens have had an extra four days to prepare and rest, but the Browns will be playing in front of a raucous crowd that has renewed sense of hope.  Which team will come out on top? Here is my take:

Ravens offense vs. Browns defense

The numbers would suggest that this is a major mismatch in favor of the Ravens as the Browns defense has yielded 300 yards a game against the pass, 125 yards against the run, and 41 total points in their first two games. Those numbers were put up by Roethlisberger and Brees. While I believe Joe Flacco is more than capable of matching those numbers, he has a history of struggling on the road, especially against division opponents. More often than not, the Ravens win close, low-scoring road games with Flacco usually struggling.

The Ravens need a balanced attack and to not abandon the run – even if it is not working early. If they do that, they should be successful.  The numbers point to a major advantage for the Ravens but, being a Ravens fan, I know better. My prediction is a low-scoring game.

Advantage:  Even

Browns offense vs. Ravens defense

The Browns have scored 53 points in their first two games, thanks in large part to a great running game led by Baltimore native and former Towson Tiger Terrance West. However, the Ravens defense has kept their opponents running game in check. So, something – one way or another – has to give.

It is almost a guarantee that the Ravens game plan will be to load the box to stop West and make Brian Hoyer and the Browns less-than-stellar corps of receivers try to beat them. Lardarius Webb should return to the lineup and, if he is 100 percent, the Ravens will receive a tremendous boost to their defense.

Brian Hoyer has yet to throw an interception in 70 attempts, but also has only thrown for an average of 200 yards per game, so the passing game has been somewhat efficient but far from explosive. The Ravens will likely give the Browns one-on-one matchups on the outside and I expect the Ravens corners to win those matchups.

Advantage: Ravens

Special Teams

The Ravens have struggled on the road the last few seasons, often playing close games that come down to field position and the kicking game. I expect more of the same come Sunday.

Justin Tucker is a weapon and should be a major factor in this game. Not much analysis is really needed here: It is likely going to be a low-scoring game and the team that wins the field position battle – and makes all of their field goals – will come out on top. Expect to see a lot of Billy Cundiff and Justin Tucker.

Advantage:  Ravens

Prediction

There is no love lost between these two team and cities. The Browns look forward to trying to beat the Ravens each year, however, more times than not, are unsuccessful.

While I don’t believe the Browns have turned the corner completely, I do not think they are as bad as they were in previous years. I also think they are completely capable of beating the Ravens Sunday.  The Ravens always struggle on the road and Cleveland will be a hostile environment on Sunday.

Joe Flacco and the running game need to step up and, while I don’t think Flacco lights it up, I think the Ravens make enough plays to win a very close game and Justin Tucker hits a field goal to win it for Baltimore.

Ravens 17 Browns 16

About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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