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9/29/2019 Browns vs. Ravens Pregame

Ravens face off with the Browns this Sunday which will be the first of three straight games with division opponents. Last Sunday all four AFC North teams recorded a loss which means that the Ravens didn’t lose any ground in the division standings. The Ravens have a great opportunity in front of them – because if they can beat the Browns, Steelers and Bengals in consecutive weeks they will have a substantial lead in the standings. Bengals and Steelers are both winless at 0 – 3, and they play each other Monday night which means that one of them is going to be 0 -4. Can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to see that. It would be nice for a change for the Ravens to win the division prior to the last game of the season, which I think can happen this year if they win these early division games.

Coming into this season it was thought that the Ravens would have a strong secondary, great tight end group and a solid running game. Two out of three is not bad, but in the NFL it’s not good enough. The Ravens secondary is giving up 293 yards per game and rank near the bottom of the league. The loss of Young and Smith has hurt this group and now Marlon is fighting a hip injury. What was once thought to be a deep group is starting to look very thin. Earl Thomas has struggled these past two games and does not look like the playmaker that we all saw and admired in Seattle. To make matters worse, both Peanut and Young have struggled with coverage in the middle of field and as a result have been gashed by tight ends and slot receivers. On Sunday they will face OBJ and Landry who are some of the league’s best wide outs. The Ravens secondary has their work cut out for them and they will have to do better in containing the Browns from making big plays. In case you didn’t know, the last time the Ravens faced OBJ he accumulated 222 yards and two touchdowns – which should cause some concern for Coach Wink.

The Ravens offense is going to face one of the better defensive front fours in the league, which is led by Myles Garrett. He is going to give the Ravens O line a lot of challenges and no doubt Coach Roman will have to leave tight ends in to help block this D line that has recorded 10 sacks so far this season. The O line, which many reported would be a big weakness this season, has actually performed pretty well in these early games. Sunday will be their biggest test so far this season and we will know more about their prowess by games end. Let’s hope they impress. The Ravens offense should be up to the challenge Sunday because they can be effective both on the ground and in the air. I would like to see the Ravens take what the Browns give them – if the Browns put eight in the box to stop the run, then burn them in the air. I don’t think it will be that easy to run against the Browns, but having Lamarvelous as a running threat really does open up our running game and so far they have been very successful.

The pundits have been hyping the Browns since mid-summer and some of them have already crowned them the AFC North champions. There is no doubt that this Browns roster is far better than it was a few years ago, and I do agree they are an upcoming team. That said, it takes more than great talent to be winners and the Browns are going to have figure that part out. Mayfield is a talented quarterback but he is a young and is prone to make mistakes as noted by 5 Interceptions so far this season. The Browns at 1 – 2 are desperate to get a win on Sunday and I expect them to play very aggressive football. You can expect them to go on 4th down, possibly do some fakes, and throw down field every chance they get. There is no reason for them to play conservative on the road. Mayfield has racked up some big yardages against the Ravens but he has also made some mistakes – and the Ravens have to help him make some more. I am concerned for the Ravens in this respect, their secondary tends to play the receiver and rarely do they play the ball. And you if you want to get interceptions or defend passes, you are going to have to play the ball. Also, if the Ravens can’t generate any pass rush from their front four it is going to be a long day for the secondary. I hope that Wink has a good week of practice with these guys because they need to be ready. I am not interested in hearing any more post-game press conferences where they talk about needing to improve their communications. Just get er done!

Sunday’s game should be a good one to watch because divisional games are always tough, hard fought games. If you like fast and physical football – you will enjoy this one. The Ravens have a good offense and their ability to move the ball has been exceptional this year. I felt that last Sunday Lamar was too amped up and am hoping that this week he plays more even keel and doesn’t try to do too much. If he plays within himself, I think he has a good game and does enough to win it. I would like to see the Ravens run the ball 35+ times Sunday and if they do, they should have the ball for 35+ minutes which would keep the Browns off the field. Mayfield is one of the guys that takes time to find his groove but if you keep him off the field, he might not find it. Ravens have made a living stopping the run and forcing teams to throw. They will need to stop Chubb as well as keep Baker from getting out of the pocket – because he can hurt you with the roll out runs. The Ravens are favored by 7 but I think this game will be closer and likely contested well into the 4th quarter. I watched the Browns play the Rams last week, and they played them very tough and have no doubt they will play equally well against the Ravens. Playing on the home field and having the 12th man making disruptive noise should give the Ravens the strong edge to win this game. I like the Ravens but don’t think they cover, and with the over/under at 45 – I will take the over by a whisker. Enjoy the game my friends and stay thirsty.

Cleveland Browns hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – September 29th at 1:00 pm
Odds – Ravens by 7

Game Predictions

Score       Ravens    26      Browns 20
Turnovers       Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage       Ravens    170      Browns    110
Net Passing Yardage        Ravens    288      Browns    263

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Chubb gets 19 carries for 93 yards
• Judon gets a sack and one PF penalty
• Lamar throws his first pick of the season
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Protect the rock
• Play ball control football and keep Mayfield on the sidelines
• Stop the run and make them one dimensional

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