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12/22/19 Ravens vs Browns

The Baltimore Ravens take their 10-game winning streak to Cleveland in an effort to secure a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which if occurs will be the first one for them in franchise history. As we all know the last time the Ravens lost a game was at the hands of the Browns who came into M&T Stadium and slobber knockered them. Funny to say this out loud, but that was probably one of the best things that could have happened to the Ravens. The shocking loss to the Browns at home was a big wake up call to the team and the organization. The outcome of that game created a ground swell of activity from the front office that brought a number of new players to the Ravens including L. J. Fort, Josh Bynes, Marcus Peters, and Jihad Ward – and with corresponding exits from Young and Williams along with others. They reshaped their defense 4 games into the season. On September 29th the Ravens were the 27th worst defense in the league and today they are the 6th best, and they are the very best defense statistically since week 4. Not to be overlooked but the injury to Jefferson which put Chuck Clark in the starting role has proven to be a great improvement to the back end of the secondary. Good teams know how to move players around to make them successful and they develop game plans around their strengths. No one has done it better in 2019 then the Baltimore Ravens, and that is why you are seeing a franchise record 12 Ravens invited to the Pro Bowl.

The Browns who had high hopes coming into the season are now languishing in 3rd place in the AFC North and with no hopes of playing in January. They have a lot of talent on this team but have been unable to capitalize to make it a winning season. Their head coach is under duress and you have to wonder how long he will survive. The team always seems to be in some state of disarray and they often are dealing with some drama. Baker is mouthing off, Beckham is whining about his role on the team, Garrett is smashing heads with his helmet, and Kitchens is wearing a t-shirt that makes you scratch your head. If you are a Ravens fan you have to love that you don’t have to put up with that kind of drama on a regular basis.

So far Baker is 2 and 1 against the Ravens, and has thrown for over 300 yards in all three contests. His success against the Ravens is a bit mystifying, but there is no arguing that the Ravens seem to get his best effort. I will be surprised if this game doesn’t get chippy from the very beginning of the game. There is no love between the teams in the AFC North. The Ravens are flat out pissed off about that loss and they want revenge in the worst way. They want to limit Chubbs and attack Mayfield. This time when the Ravens play them, they will have Brandon Williams in the middle which will make it far tougher sledding for Chubbs. Now a word about the difference between Baker and Lamar. Baker was the number one draft choice in the 2018 draft and Lamar was 32nd. Baker is fiery, cocky, and seems to have an ego that matches his number one selection. Lamar is competitive, focused and all about having fun playing the game of football. Lamar is humble and always team centered. Now the comparison of stats – Lamar has a QBR of 112.8, league leading 30 passing TDs, 6 interceptions, 66% completion percentage and 1 lost fumble. Baker Man has a QBR of 78.7, 17 TDs, 17 interceptions, 60% completion percentage and 4 lost fumbles. It would be rubbing it in to display the rushing comparison.

What are the Browns and Ravens playing for on Sunday? The Browns get to play the number one ranked team in the league and beating the Ravens twice in a season would be a great boost to their team ego. That is the one downside to being on the top of the hill, everyone loves a chance to knock you off the hill. The Ravens are fighting to have the playoffs go through Baltimore which they have never enjoyed and you have to believe they want this in the worst way. Cleveland is a below average team both offensively and defensively. They have struggled against the run, and with Miles Garrett suspended they don’t have the same disruptive pass rush that they had when he was playing. It will be interesting to see how hard the Browns play on Sunday, because with Head Coash Kitchens likely being dead man walking – you have to wonder how hard they will play for him. That said, they are at home and they may play tough just out of hate for the Ravens. The Ravens are not likely to take the Browns lightly as many of them still have that nasty taste in their mouths from September. The Ravens are playing much better on both sides of the ball this time and this should present more troubles for the Browns. Wink is likely to attack the line of scrimmage with blitzes to keep Mayfield off balance. I like the Ravens running the ball a ton in this game and it would make sense for Ingram, Edwards, and Hill to split the work to stay fresh going into the playoffs. Ravens need to start fast and get the Browns back on their heels in the first quarter. The Ravens will play ball control offense and limit Baker’s time on the field. If they do that effectively, they wear the Browns down to a nub by the 4th quarter and the game could be out of hand enough to bring in RGIII and some of the other second stringers. I am certain of this – the Ravens will try and win this game at any cost – no matter what it takes, even if that means Lamar running it 15 times. The weather Sunday looks good so that bodes well for the Ravens offense as bad weather tends to reduce scoring. If the Ravens protect the ball and play penalty free, I don’t see how they lose this one. Vegas has the Ravens by 10 with the over/under at 49.5. I like the Ravens to cover and I like the over here. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Baltimore Ravens hosted by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, December 22nd at 1:00 PM Odds Ravens by 10 points / OU at 49.5

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    31      Browns    20
Turnovers               Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    210       Browns    124
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens    229        Browns    261

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Ravens rush 35+ times
• Judon gets 2 sacks
• Hill gets 5 carries for 23 yards
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Harass Baker and force mistakes
• Play ball control offense and score in the red zone
• Contain Chub and keep him under 80 yards

2 comments

  1. Fr. Mike says:

    Thanks Dan. I love the commentary.
    What were your thoughts on the last minute 1st half Offensive Passing Interface call against the Saints? That call reversed my entrance into the Championship of the family league… missed it by that much!?

    1. Dan Gahagan says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I missed the play you are alluding to in your comment, I will have to look it up if I can. What a gut punch to miss it when you were so close.

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