Look for a healthy dose of Rice

As is the case with the rest of their AFC North counterparts, the Browns have a tough, fast, physical defense.

Cleveland is sixth in the NFL in total defense, and has done a really nice job of adapting to a new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.

But when you look at the numbers a little closer, you can see a clear area where the Ravens should be able to attack the Browns' D.

Cleveland has the top pass defense in the league, allowing just 174.7 yards per game through the air this season, but they've really struggled at times with their run defense. The Browns rank 29th in the NFL against the run, and they suffered a couple big blows in the front-seven this week when starting outside linebacker Scott Fujita (their fourth-leading tackler) and defensive end Emmanuel Stephens were placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Ray_Rice-flexing-tall.jpgAs a result, don't be surprised if the Ravens lean heavily on their running game today, especially considering the fact it's supposed to rain in Cleveland throughout the game.

"The bottom line is people have had success running the ball on them, for whatever reason," quarterback Joe Flacco noted this week. "Obviously, they've been good in the pass defense. Some of that is the fact that teams have just chose to run the ball on them because they haven't been able to have success."

"If there's something that needs to be fixed, they're going to address the run game," running back Ray Rice said. "I'm sure that's going to be a top priority coming into this game. We have to execute against them in the front."

While the Browns' run defense has struggled this season, their pass defense has excelled, even without an abundance of interceptions or sacks.

Cleveland has recorded the second-fewest interceptions in the league and they're averaging just two sacks per game. So how have they had so much success against the pass? They've found a nice mix of youth and veteran talent in the secondary and have limited the number of big gainers against them.

"They're covering real well," head coach John Harbaugh said. "Dick Jauron does a great job in the back end. He's kind of a secondary guy from way back. They're very solid. They don't give up a lot of big plays. They get good pressure up front. They're a very good defensive football team. If you look at the numbers across the board - red zone, yards per play - there are a number of categories where they are in the top-five, top-10 defensively this year.

"Very salty defense. Just watch them on tape. It's going to be a big challenge for us, especially there, in the conditions that we are probably going to have to go against."

"Salty defense"? I like that.

In the secondary, cornerback Joe Haden has really come on strong in his second season. He's a physical guy who likes to pressure receivers at the line of scrimmage, but can keep that pressure on throughout the route. Haden ranks second in the NFL in pass breakups (16) this season, and has teamed with 10-year veteran Sheldon Brown to give Cleveland a nice one-two punch at corner.

Throw it in poor weather against the NFL's top pass defense, or run it against the league's 29th rushing defense.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? We'll have to see if offensive coordinator Cam Cameron agrees.

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