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Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens - Official Game Thread

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The Cleveland Browns are making Peter King's 2-14 prediction look generous at this point. This week, the only way to change the team's negative streak is to do something shocking: attempt to come into the game with a gameplan on offense.

CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-2) WEEK 3 BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-0)
VS.
Date: September 27, 2009 Location: Baltimore, MD
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
TV: CBS
Favorite: Ravens by 14
Radio: WTAM, 1100 AM Over/Under: 38½
SBN Coverage: Baltimore Beatdown Announcers Gus Johnson,
Steve Tasker

With a loss this week to the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns will be three games out of the division lead just three games into the regular season. That's a hole that a non-powerhouse team like the Browns can't climb out of. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not be playing the "spoiler role" prior to the half-way point of the season -- I still want there to at least be some hope for contending.

That'll be tough against the Ravens. Our defense has started off games well, but then succumbed to the pressure in the second half of games. If our offense hasn't gotten it going yet, then why on the road against the Ravens? I haven't given up hope, but I am now refusing to boast about the potential of our offense when it has failed to pan out time and time again.

This week, the Browns have two big injuries -- RB Jamal Lewis and K Phil Dawson. I'm happy to see one of our youngsters at running back, but seeing another player at kicker just seems weird (Billy Cundiff is the new kicker).

Let's start off this week's preview with the overall team statistics heading into Week 3...

OFFENSE

Category Browns Ravens
Points Scored 13.0 (30th) 34.5 (2nd)
Passing 162.5 (28th) 242.0 (13th)
Rushing 71.5 (27th) 164.0 (4th)
Total Offense (yards) 234.0 (32nd) 406.0 (3rd)

DEFENSE

Category Browns Ravens
Points Scored 30.5 (29th) 25.0 (23rd)
Passing 174.0 (7th) 290.0 (28th)
Rushing 205.5 (31st) 41.0 (1st)
Total Defense (yards) 379.5 (29th) 331.0 (17th)

CLEVELAND BROWNS Position BALTIMORE RAVENS
Brady Quinn is bound to face heavy pressure against the Ravens. Bad protection on the right side, coupled with Quinn holding onto the ball too long, could lead to Derek Anderson entering as an injury replacement.
QB - If the Ravens' Joe Flacco is supposed to have a sophomore slump, he's now having it yet. After two weeks, he has continued to be an effective quarterback. His longest completion has been for 31 yards.
I'm excited to hopefully see Jerome Harrison start, but I don't expect many carries out of him. If anything, I want him to receive a lot out of the backfield.
RB - Ray Rice and Willis McGahee have started off the season by complementing each other beautifully -- Rice is averaging 5.3 yards a pop, while McGahee is at 4.9 yards a pop.
Braylon Edwards has a shot at redemption against a thin Ravens secondary. Last season, Edwards dropped a potential game-sealing touchdown against Baltimore.
WR -

Derrick Mason = Veteran.
Mark Clayton = Productive.
Kelly Washington = Role-player.
Todd Heap = Still Heap.

Not great, but it works.

I would take the left side of our line any day over the Ravens. That's not to discredit the Ravens; Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach offer few weaknesses. To get to the point though, our right side blows.

OL - The Ravens are a step ahead of the Browns, having taken a right tackle (Michael Oher) in this year's first round. Baltimore has a nice mix of youth and veteran players on the line.

Paging Corey Williams. Are you still on the team?

I wouldn't be surprised to see him following in the footsteps of Leon Williams, Beau Bell, and Martin Rucker pretty soon.

DL - The Ravens bring their defensive line unit from last year back -- Trevor Pryce, Kelley Gregg, and Haloti Ngata. It'll be interesting to see how Alex Mack does against his first division-foe-nose-tackle.
So far, we've seen a lot of average ability from our linebackers. D'Qwell Jackson is supposed to be the defensive leader, but can he come up with the individual game-changing play (alas Ray Lewis last week against San Diego)?
LB - The Ravens lost Bart Scott in the offseason, but just like they recovered last year when they lost Adalius Thomas, they have enough talent elsewhere to compensate for their losses. At the same time, they end up developing their youth into top-notch players.
I'll get a better understanding of what type of coach Mangini is this week based on who plays the nickel back role. If it's Coye Francies, then I'll see that as progress over the Crennel era.
-
DB - This is Baltimore's weakest unit defensively, more so at the cornerback position. This is a good time to exploit Fabien Washington and Domonique Foxworth by going deep to Edwards early and often.
Without Phil Dawson this week, the usually-favored Browns category goes to "even". His replacement, Billy Cundiff, has only made 61% of his kicks beyond 30 yards in his career (55% from beyond 40 yards, 40% from beyond 50 yards).
- ST - Chris Carr is a threat as a kick returner. This will be the first time in forever that Matt Stover and/or Phil Dawson aren't in a Browns vs. Ravens contest.

This is a game of adjustments. Mangini and company have had two weeks of game footage to analyze and correct some of the issues we've had moving the football. It'd really be a tribute to our defense if our offense could muster at least one first-half touchdown.

Although the Ravens have an intimidating defense, they have been asking for a defeat. They played well offensively and defensively against the Chiefs in Week 1, but Kansas City managed to hang in the game until the fourth quarter. Last week, it looked like Baltimore had the Chargers comfortable put away, but Philip Rivers nearly led a comeback. Baltimore has the better team, but soon, their lack of playing a fully-polished game will come back to bite them. Could the Browns be the team that hands them their first defeat?

FINAL PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 23, Cleveland Browns 13.
CHRIS' RECORD IN PICKING BROWNS GAMES: 1-1
CHRIS' OVERALL NFL PREDICTIONS RECORD: 21-11


This is the official gameday thread for the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 as they take on the hated Baltimore Ravens. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!