Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

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Game: Baltimore Ravens (2-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium (Cleveland, OH)
When: 1:00 PM EST
Announcers: Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon

Last week's offense wasn't as explosive as the one we saw against the Bengals, but I think it's safe to say that the unit has improved tremendously last year due to the offensive line's production. The focus now falls on the defense, which is giving up an average of 35 points through the first three games. Getting our defenders lined up correctly in practice has been a "priority", but things aren't going to get much better talent wise. Willie McGinest may return, but then you have a guy like Orpheus Roye that is listed as out. The big story in this game is the fact that it marks Jamal Lewis' first game against his former team. For our sake, let's hope that the first time Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis collide, that the Browns are getting the better of the situation. Let's get to the breakdown of this week's game...

OFFENSE

Category Ravens Browns
Points Scored 22.0 (14th) 27.3 (6th)
Passing 214.7 (17th) 242.3 (11th)
Rushing 118.0 (14th) 120.0 (12th)
Total Offense (yards) 332.7 (16th) 362.3 (9th)

DEFENSE

Category Ravens Browns
Points Scored 21.0 (16th) 35.0 (32nd)
Passing 239.7 (19th) 254.3 (24th)
Rushing 61.7 (1st) 176.3 (31st)
Total Defense (yards) 301.3 (8th) 430.7 (31st)
- Quarterback
Since when did the Browns go from disaster with Charlie Frye in Week 1 to respectability at the position by Week 4? In fact, it suddenly seems like ages since fans were calling for Brady Quinn, and that may be a good thing for the time being. The Ravens have gone with a dual quarterback system over the first two weeks with Steve McNair and Kyle Boller. For this game, I'd actually like to see McNair play more than I want to see Boller play. The past few times we've seen McNair, he has been ineffective against us. If you recall, McNair was replaced by Boller when we faced Baltimore last year. Boller proceeded to throw it well against our defense, leading the Ravens to victory.
- Running Back
Jamal Lewis is up against a tough test: he's facing his old team, who just happens to be ranked as the No. 1 run defense in the NFL right now. The Ravens are only giving up an average of 61.7 yards per game. If Lewis is going to hope for success, he'll have to hope that the Browns' defense doesn't allow us to fall behind early. The Ravens feature Willis McGahee this year, who has done an adequate job with his new team. He hasn't been spectacular, but there is an eerie feeling that McGahee could have his breakout game based on the way we've been allowing running backs to rip through us.
- Receiver
Some things never seem to change. The Ravens haven't had a great group of receivers since returning to the league really, besides tight end Todd Heap. Derrick Mason has 23 receptions this year and has gotten off to a better start than he did last year, but nobody else stands out on a consistent basis. The Browns should look out for Demetrius Williams though - he's a fast slot receiver that burned us last year. Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius, and Kellen Winslow has another impressive showing last week, at least in the second half against the Raiders. Edwards may have a nice edge against Baltimore with cornerback Samari Rolle ruled out.
- Offensive Line
Just how good has the offensive line been over the past two weeks with a quarterback that gets rid of the football? Anderson has only been sacked once, and that was on a play where he actually was stripped of the football last week. The Ravens have done a fair job keeping their quarterbacks on their feet as well, although Steve McNair has had some problems of hanging onto the ball too long at times, exposing the football to defensive players that come from the edge. Both run offenses have been about equal, but again, the Ravens' defense could make our line look like crap.
- Defensive Line
Kelly Gregg. Now that is a defensive tackle. When you compare the current levels of talent between Gregg and Ted Washington, the scale shift towards Gregg's favor in a major way. I'd trade all seven-eight of our defensive linemen today to get Gregg, because him alone would would be better than what we presently have. The Ravens also have Haloti Ngata, whom the Browns passed up for Kamerion Wimbley last year. There's a reason why teams can't run the football against the Ravens, and it's based on my defensive rant in my blog entry below this gameday preview.
- Linebacker
Just like the Browns' defense line shouldn't even be in the same sentence as the Ravens' defensive line, the case is the same when comparing Baltimore's inside linebackers. Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs run absolute circles around the capabilities of Andra Davis and D'Qwell Jackson. Not only are Lewis and Suggs much better players, they both have that intimidation factor. Teams will try to run at them, but they know they can't. When teams look at the Browns inside linebackers, fear is probably the last thing that would ever cross their minds. On top of that, where the Browns are strong at outside linebacker, the Ravens are still just as good. With Bart Scott's comments about our stadium this week though, it'd be nice if the Browns gave him a little reality check this week.
- Secondary
Samari Rolle is out this week, meaning that Corey Ivy will start in place of him. The Ravens still have Chris McAllister, Ed Reed, and Dawan Landry to pick up the slack, but the Ravens' secondary has been vulnerable against hurry up offenses this season. Kellen Clemons and Kurt Warner have each torn apart the Ravens' secondary in the past two weeks during the fourth quarter. The Browns are staying loyal to Eric Wright for another week, but all eyes should be on Brodney Pool and the possibility of Demetrius Williams sprinting down the field. I called Lewis' success off left tackle against the Bengals, I called Wimbley's sacks last week, and I'm calling the fact that the Ravens will try to target this matchup at some point in this game.
- Special Teams
Can the Ravens run anyone that they want at the punt return position and score touchdowns? B.J. Sams, Ed Reed, and Yamon Figurs have each done very well on punt returns, with Reed and Figurs scoring a touchdown in the past two weeks. Joshua Cribbs balances that threat due to his kick return ability: after all, doesn't it seem like he's going to score every week? For our sake, if the game comes down to a field goal this week, at least we're on our home field and don't have to worry about the dirt.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 23, Baltimore Ravens 17.
Again, the big story here in terms of the national media is the fact that Jamal Lewis will be going head-to-head against Ray Lewis and the Ravens' defense. It should be a sight to see the first time that those two meet each other on a play. The Browns were a field goal away from being 2-1 last week, and are playing pretty well on offense. Our defense has been a liability, but sometime the Ravens' "platoon quarterback situation" will come back to bite them, whether it be a lack of continuity or a question of who to put in at what time. You may not want to take my prediction for much though; I'm 0-3 at projecting Browns games this season.

This is the official gameday topic for the third game of the regular season, featuring the Cleveland Browns against the Baltimore Ravens. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!
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