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Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens - Positional Breakdown

It has only been three weeks since the Browns played the Ravens, and the same positional review from then pretty much holds true now as well. Some factors have changed -- such as Colt McCoy being out at quarterback for the Browns and Ray Lewis being back for the Ravens -- but these factors do not sway the position battles in the opposite direction.

Position-by-Position Breakdown

Pos Adv Reason
QB - The Ravens have really struggled on the road compared to home this year, but one thing has remained constant: it's been a pretty below average year for Joe Flacco. He has turned the ball over 17 times this season after coughing it up just 14 times all of last season. On top of that, his completion percentage and touchdown rate are down as well.

Seneca Wallace showed his competency running the West Coast Offense last week, and he actually rated well against the blitz, per PFF. It'll be interesting to compare his performance against Baltimore to the one that McCoy had a few weeks back.
RB - The Browns are bruised and battered, but one player is in tip-top shape right now: Peyton Hillis. This might be the game where it all comes together for Hillis. Even if Hillis is hot though, the Ravens have Ray Rice. Rice torched the Browns' run defense for over 200 yards a couple of weeks ago, and he'll be hungry for more.
WR - It seems like Torrey Smith's role in the Ravens' offense is growing. With a No. 1 receiver like Anquan Boldin across from him, it has naturally presented more opportunities for Smith than a guy like Greg Little might get. Boldin is out this week though, meaning Smith will be the go-to-guy for the first time this season.

The Browns might be forced into using Carlton Mitchell and Jordan Cameron in their offensive gameplan this week. Jordan Norwood and Alex Smith are both out, and Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs are both a bit banged up.
OL - The Browns' offensive line continues to improve each week, especially right guard Shawn Lauvao. Tony Pashos hasn't been all-start caliber, but he's remained healthy and has been stable. The one thing the line still seems to be lacking is getting a push in short yardage situations, though. It's hard to be negative about the Ravens' offensive line after they abused the Browns in run blocking three weeks ago.
DL - Ever since moving to the other side to rush against left tackles, Jayme Mitchell has been pretty ineffective. Unfortunately, with all the injuries to backup defensive linemen (i.e. Marcus Bernard, Emmanual Stephens), there are no other options even though Mitchell presumably continues to play hurt.
LB - I thought D'Qwell Jackson, Chris Gocong, and Kaluka Maiava collectively had the best performance of the season for Cleveland linebackers against Arizona. That still isn't enough to compare with the Ravens though, who also have Ray Lewis back this time around. The Browns might be in a tough situation to handle Terrell Suggs too since their normal blocking tight end, Alex Smith, won't be available to deliver "chips."
DB - This is the one position that changes, compared to three weeks ago, where Baltimore had the advantage. Cris Collinsworth did a good job explaining that the Chargers tried to put a man in motion almost every play to see if Baltimore was in man coverage. If they motioned with the player, then Rivers would attack rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith. Cleveland can exploit that same matchup this week.
ST - Billy Cundiff is battling a calf injury and might not be able to go this week. The Ravens signed Shayne Graham to their roster just in case. Joshua Cribbs is still slowed by a hamstring injury, so we might see Cribbs on punts and Buster Skrine on kickoffs. If that's the case, can Skrine provide a much-needed spark to the special teams return unit?

You might think a lot can't change in a span of three weeks, but that's not the case. The Browns' offense had more...confidence last week. They could also be thrusting Carlton Mitchell and Jordan Cameron into prime contributing roles this week, and that could catch the Ravens' defense off guard, much like Hillis did at one point last year.

The defense is also doing a better job defending the run the past two weeks. Remember, in that game where Rice had over 200 yards rushing, it was a rainy mess, something the Browns' defense did not respond well too. Baltimore's gameplan will be more balanced without the rain, and that benefits the Browns. Baltimore is undefeated at home this season, but that changes with a stunner this week.

FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 24, Baltimore Ravens 14