For the second time in a four-week span, the Ravens and Browns will meet with Baltimore looking to separate itself in the playoff picture and Cleveland looking to play spoiler.
This time, the game will be held at M&T Bank Stadium, and this time, the Browns will hope to allow fewer than the 290 rushing yards they gave up to the Ravens back in Cleveland earlier this month. That total still boggles my mind.
Here’s how these two teams match up going into Sunday’s game:
Ravens: 342.0 yards per game (15th)
Browns: 294.6 yards per game (29th)
Ravens: 115.2 ypg (t-14th)
Browns: 95.9 ypg (30th)
Ravens: 226.8 ypg (16th)
Browns: 198.8 ypg (22nd)
Ravens: 287.9 ypg (3rd)
Browns: 333.9 ypg (14th)
Ravens: 90.0 ypg (2nd)
Browns: 145.4 ypg (31st)
Ravens: 197.9 ypg (5th)
Browns: 188.4 ypg (3rd)
Ravens: +1 (t-12th)
Browns: 0 (t-14th)
The Ravens might be without wide receiver Anquan Boldin tomorrow, but Cleveland has some injury issues of its own. Quarterback Colt McCoy will miss another game following that brutal hit from Pittsburgh’s James Harrison a couple weeks back, and starting strong safety T.J. Ward was put on injured reserve yesterday, marking another blow to a declining Cleveland defense.
This was a defensive unit that was ranked sixth in the league when these two teams met just three weeks ago, but they’ve had their fair share of issues in that three-game span. Paramount among them is their run defense, which has improved since that Week 13 game when Ray Rice had 204 rushing yards by himself, but still will be an area to watch tomorrow.
Cleveland’s pass defense is still strong, and even though they have the third-fewest interceptions in the league and rank in the bottom third in the league in sacks, they present challenges for a Ravens passing attack that will be without its No. 1 wideout.
As has been the case every time the Ravens and Browns have met these last couple seasons, Baltimore’s defensive focus will be on slowing bruising running back Peyton Hillis, who is coming off a strong performance last week at Arizona in which he rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown.
The Browns don’t present many challenges through the air (their wide receiver duo of Mohamed Massaquoi and Greg Little won’t exactly scare anyone), but Wallace’s scrambling ability will be an added dynamic which will need to be accounted for.
In reality, this is the perfect type of team for the Ravens to play coming off that disaster of a performance last week in San Diego. The Browns will be playing for pride, but they don’t have a playoff spot on the line, they lack the type of offense that can beat the Ravens with big plays down the field and they don’t put a ton of pressure on the QB.
I’ve been wrong before, but I think this should be a cakewalk for a motivated Ravens team. Put me down for a 24-9 Ravens win.
What about you? Have any concerns that last week’s performance will carry over to tomorrow, or do you think the Ravens will roll over the Browns and go undefeated at home this season?
Who you got?