|Total Offense (yards)
|Total Defense (yards)
Here is a very interesting statistic: Steve McNair has not been intercepted or sacked in his past three games. That is an amazing feat to accomplish, and it just shows how much more polished the Ravens offensive line is than the Browns. Derek Anderson has given us some hope over his past two appearances, as he looks to upset his former team in this one. The Ravens claimed that they knocked Anderson around in practice when he was on their team, and that could be the case this Sunday. Anderson will get rid of the ball quickly, but any tipped pass will result in an interception this time around.
Reuben Droughns, Jason Wright, Jerome Harrison, or whoever we throw in the backfield will have no shot against the Ravens defense. Heck, I'd have my doubts about running against the Colts defense (OK, maybe we would do fine against them...). The Ravens aren't a dominating rushing team anymore, but Jamal Lewis has gotten gradually stronger as the season has moved on. Lewis simply doesn't have enough speed to do a whole lot, and that's what beats the Browns: speed. When a running back takes forever to get to the line, we have usually been able to overcome power. Still, the Ravens clearly have the advantage here.
Usually, I've been ranking the Browns receivers above the opposition, including the last time we faced Baltimore. Over the season, McNair has actually developed some chemistry with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, and Todd Heap. Anderson has done the same with Joe Jurevicius during his past two starts, but the production by Kellen Winslow has gone down tremendously as of late. The drops continue to be the arch enemy of the Browns, as Braylon can't hang on to it when he gets hit, and Dennis Northcutt is missing his wide open targets. I still believe the Browns have more talent here, but in terms of execution, Baltimore excels.
I think the statistic of McNair not being sacked in three games spells the Ravens offensive line in itself. The Browns offensive line has actually kept Anderson clean since he's been in the game, and have picked up blitzes well. On the same note, Anderson also deserves credit for that by making much quicker reads than Charlie Frye ever did. Our running game can't create any penetration whatsoever, unless moving backwards counts as penetration.
Orpheus Roye is finished for the year, and we've seen how bad the combination of Ted Washington, Simon Fraser, and Alvin McKinley has been. None of them can get close to a quarterback during a game, and that is really killing us when our linebackers attempt to blitz, only to get smothered. We can only dream of having the Ravens defensive line and depth - they create pressure, plug the line, drop into coverage - of course we wouldn't know, since we haven't had a defensive line since returning to the league.
Of our three defensive injuries, losing Jackson is the one that really won't affect us too much. I'm not knocking Jackson by any means, but he was a rookie that was still learning the game. He never made any game-changing plays, and I'm confident that Leon Williams being in there won't make too much of a difference. In this game, we'll get to see a linebacker I'd love the Browns to get - Adalius Thomas. Maybe he can show Andra Davis how to tackle someone before they are five yards down the field.
The buzz involving Mel Tucker and the Browns secondary has worn down, showing that injuries eventually catch up to you. The Browns secondary has not put on a good showing for weeks now, and Leigh Bodden's ankle will not be close to 100% as long as he keeps playing this season. The Ravens secondary is so dangerous with Ed Reed and Chris McAllister; it's a shame that the guy we got from them (Gary Baxter) is injured more times than not.
Phil Dawson has missed two field goals that could've been critical over the past three weeks: once against the Bengals, and last week against the Steelers. If he knocks those kicks through, we could've had some momentum heading into the respective half. Joshua Cribbs is still explosive on special teams, and the Ravens are without returner B.J. Sams.
I hope that I'm not exaggerating the score too much, because the Ravens should clearly win this game. I have faith in Cleveland responding after last week's disaster, but we are physically overmatched. Although I gave the Browns 20 points, I see there being an 11-point differential for most of the game, with Cleveland scoring a late touchdown to make the game seem closer than it really was.
This is the official gameday thread for today's game. Any comments you would like to make before, during, or after the game should be placed into this thread. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!