Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns - Official Game Thread

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BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-3) WEEK 9 CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-4)
VS.
Date: November 6, 2008 Location: Cleveland, OH
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Stadium: Cleveland Browns Stadium
TV: CBS
Favorite: Browns by 2
Radio: WMMS, 100.7 FM Over/Under: 36.5
SBN Coverage: Baltimore Beatdown Announcers
Kevin Harlan & Rich Gannon

The rivalry has been intense all week. Whether you hate the team, the city, or the fans, in the end the ultimate goal remains the same for the Browns: we need to win. At 3-4, Romeo Crennel has his team in position to potentially hold a wildcard spot, along with the notion of being one game behind the division leaders, by the end of Week 9. Cleveland suffered a loss to the Ravens back in Week 3, a game that Derek Anderson took all of the blame for. His performance in that game was equivalent to his meltdown late in the season against the Cincinnati Bengals last year. He has a chance for redemption at home today. He was able to evade any Brady Quinn chants the last time he was at home against the New York Giants. Will the same hold true today?

With the Ravens hurting and the Browns getting healthy, can we put this game away like we should? Let's start off this week's preview with the overall team statistics thus far...

OFFENSE

Category Ravens Browns
Points Scored 19.1 (26th) 16.4 (27th)
Passing 164.9 (27th) 167.9 (26th)
Rushing 142.4 (5th) 97.9 (26th)
Total Offense (yards) 307.3 (24th) 265.7 (30th)

DEFENSE

Category Ravens Browns
Points Scored 15.7 (3rd) 17.5 (7th)
Passing 178.1 (3rd) 195.0 (10th)
Rushing 64.3 (1st) 141.6 (24th)
Total Defense (yards) 242.4 (2nd) 336.6 (21st)

 

 

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Quarterback

Derek Anderson has not thrown an interception in his past three games, a career-best for him. The Browns have not turned the ball over at all during that span, and when you win the turnover battle, you're going to win the majority of the football games you play. Anderson's worst game of the season came against the Ravens, as he threw three interceptions (practically two for touchdowns) and completed just 37% of his passes. Flacco played poorly as well, throwing two interceptions in his own stadium. Since that game, the Browns' offense has shown signs of getting back in sync, while the Ravens' offense has looked manageably well, but not to the credit of Flacco.

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Running Back

Jamal Lewis has been good for an average of 80 yards and a touchdown in his past four weeks against some solid run defenses. He was on pace to do that against the Ravens in Week 3 as well before we had to abandoned the ground game due to falling behind. The Ravens don't have one go-to-guy at running back, but they are extremely effective at wearing a defense down in the sense that they have confidence in three different guys. If the Ravens build a lead, they can shove a fresh guy in at running back to help ice the game. In what was the Ravens' final "true" drive against the Browns in Week 3, they ran the ball 12 times and ate 10 minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter to seal a victory.

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Receiver

When you line up the matchups, Cleveland once again has the advantage against the opposition. Now the question will be whether or not the chemistry can show up when Kellen Winslow is in the lineup. The last time we were at home, Anderson made a living on making lightning-quick decisions against the Giants' pass-rushing defense. That requires chemistry, something Anderson has shown with Steve Heiden, not Winslow. If Anderson can make those same decisions at home, the receivers should obliterate the Ravens' secondary. If not, the Ravens will capitalize on every single mistake throw Anderson makes.

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Offensive Line

This has to be a little bit of a redemption game for the Browns' offensive line as well. They had their worst performance of the season against the Ravens, as they saw Anderson get sacked four times and knocked down on practically every single play. Losing Ryan Tucker for the season was bad news, but Kevin Shaffer is still a very serviceable right tackle. Right now, it may be more of a mental thing of the Browns containing the Ravens' defensive pass rush. If Anderson is able to connect on some deep passes early, that will alleviate some of the pressure they are under today.

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Defensive Line

Shaun Rogers proved last week just how much of a monster he is on the defensive line. The Ravens' defensive line doesn't post the stats, but they do the exact job that our defensive line was intended to do: make room for the linebackers to do their work. The Ravens have done that very well for many years, and while the Browns are starting to do it up front, the linebackers haven't been able to take advantage. Getting Shaun Smith back from a hand injury this week should help the rotation tremendously for Cleveland.

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Linebacker

D'Qwell Jackson is Cleveland's best linebacker right now. When it comes to making the impact play though, he isn't even close to being on the same scale as a Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, or Bart Scott. Last week, the Browns' linebackers did an effective job at not allowing Maurice Jones-Drew or Fred Taylor to cut the ball upfield, and they'll be depended on for the same production this week. Flacco can be baited into some throws when he rolls out to his right, so our linebackers need to be ready to force him to that side of the field. Meanwhile, Anderson cannot afford to try to fit tight throws into receivers between three linebackers -- one will deliver the big hit, and one of the other two will go for the interception.

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Secondary

Chris McAlister? Out. Samari Rolle? Out. Fabian Washington and Frank Walker will start at cornerback for the Ravens. They have started the past two weeks and the Ravens have come away with victories, so it won't be as easy as just pitching and catching for the Browns. However, one of those games came against a poor passing Raiders team. In the other game, Chad Pennington was effective throwing the ball, having receivers with 74, 71, 64, and 48 yards receiving. The Browns' secondary, meanwhile, continues to play well together. It'll be a huge boost today if Sean Jones stays in the lineup at safety, which would allow Mike Adams to finally assume the role of nickel back instead of Terry Cousin.

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Special Teams

Unusual statistic: Joshua Cribbs has only signaled fair catch once this season when fielding a punt. Matt Stover is having a little bit of a down year for the Ravens, missing 3-of-4 kicks from beyond 40 yards. He also struggled last year when he was in Cleveland, missing on both of his attempts from beyond 40 yards. Both punters are having solid seasons, and the Ravens' Sam Koch has the power to get the ball down the field even if our defense has the Ravens' offense backed up.


FINAL PREDICTION:
Cleveland Browns 31, Baltimore Ravens 16.
Revenge is sweet, especially when it comes against the Ravens. The Browns looked overwhelmed by the Giants in the preseason on the road, only to come back and dominate the game against them at home during the regular season. Baltimore never really got a spark going against our defense the first time we played -- all of their success came in a brief period of clock time when they picked off Derek Anderson. The gameplan today will focus on countering the Ravens' ability to get to Anderson quickly by utilizing Donte Stallworth deep for the first time this year. The weather couldn't be better for a November football game today either, with temperatures expected to be near 60 degrees.

This is the official gameday topic for the Cleveland Browns in Week 9 as they line up against the Baltimore Ravens. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!

NOTE: Any Ravens fans who come over with the sole intention of slamming the Browns, its fans, or the city will be banned from the site. Even if you're a Baltimore fan who "thinks" you need to retaliate to something a Browns' fan says, this is our day to discuss the game. Likewise, any pure bragging topics following the game will result in the same consequences.

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