A matchup with another top 10 defensive unit? Boy, offenses sure don’t have any gimmes in the AFC North.
The Ravens travel to Cleveland to face the 4-7 Browns this weekend, and another tough defense will be waiting for them. But with the Steelers and Bengals squaring off on Sunday, the Ravens will have a chance to gain a game on one of their divisional playoff contenders with a win over Cleveland.
Here’s how the Ravens and Browns match up going into Sunday’s game:
Ravens: 335.6 yards per game (17th)
Browns: 295.9 yards per game (28th)
Ravens: 98.9 ypg (26th)
Browns: 96.8 ypg (29th)
Ravens: 236.7 ypg (13th)
Browns: 199.1 ypg (24th)
Ravens: 292.3 ypg (3rd)
Browns: 313.4 ypg (6th)
Ravens: 91.5 ypg (3rd)
Browns: 138.6 ypg (29th)
Ravens: 200.8 ypg (5th)
Browns: 174.7 ypg (1st)
Ravens: +4 (t-9th)
Browns: -1 (18th)
Yet again, the Browns sit at the bottom of the AFC North, but they’ve played some pretty good teams tough this season and very easily could be hanging close to .500 right now if they’d gotten a couple breaks.
Pat Shurmur’s team duked it out with the Bengals last week, and Cincinnati needed a field goal in the last minute to escape with a victory over the Browns.
The offensive statistics aren’t pretty for Cleveland, but they got running back Peyton Hillis - he of the 2012 Madden cover - back last week, and as I mentioned yesterday, their running game has been excellent over their last two games.
Second-year quarterback Colt McCoy seems to have regressed a bit this season after putting together an impressive rookie year, and the Browns’ offense has generated very few big plays as a result. Cleveland has recorded the league’s second-fewest plays of more than 10 yards all season and they don’t have a single receiver with more than 500 yards on the season.
Defensively, however, the Browns bring it. They’ve got a strong front led by defensive linemen Jabaal Sheard (4.5 sacks) and Phillip Taylor (four sacks), and fourth-year defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin has really come on this season. Former Maryland Terrapin D’Qwell Jackson is a tackle machine in the middle of Cleveland’s 4-3 alignment, while cornerbacks Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown have been very impressive on the back-end.
Hillis credited the Browns’ defense this week, admitting during a conference call with Baltimore reporters that if Cleveland’s offense had just been able to put up a few more points this season, they’d likely have a couple more wins.
For the Ravens to avoid Sunday becoming Cleveland’s first divisional win of the season, they’ll have to stop Hillis and Cleveland’s bruising running attack and run the ball effectively themselves. As you can see in the stats above, the Browns excel defending the pass, but are vulnerable in the ground game.
I know road losses to sub-.500 teams have been the theme this season, and I’m expecting Sunday’s game to be a grind-it-out affair, but I think the Ravens will emerge victorious.
Put me down for a 23-9 Ravens win.
What about you? You feel another letdown game coming, or will the Ravens improve to 4-0 in the division this season?
Who you got?