On Monday, the(2-8) take on the (3-7) in Week 12 of the NFL regular season. Our position-by-position evaluation and game prediction are below.
|Cleveland will be without Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel this week, as both players are still recovering from their concussions prior to the bye week. Travis Benjamin and Brian Hartline will get the start, and we should expect to see Marlon Moore as the third receiver again with Dwayne Bowe being mixed in for some reps. Moore never gets targeted as the third receiver, and just for the sake of, "what the hell, why not," I'd still like to see Bowe get some work in. After all, he is under contract for one more year, so the club should take a look to see if there is anything salvageable with him. Gary Barnidge should be pleased that Josh McCown is back under center, since he is McCown's favorite weapon.
The Ravens' receiving corp has been depleted due to injury, so they are likely to stick to a three-man rotation with heavier use of the tight end position. Kamar Aiken will be the team's top receiver, followed by Chris Givens and Jeremy Butler. Aiken had 4 catches for 78 yards the last time these teams met, with him having beat cornerback Tramon Williams on a tightly-contested pass for 48 yards. Givens has been a deep-threat receiver during his career. Cleveland will end up seeing plenty of tight ends Crockett Gilmore, Maxx Williams, and Kyle Juszczyk. Juszczyk in particular has been a Browns-killer over the past two seasons.
|OL||The Ravens are expected to be without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe and starting left guard Kelechi Osemele. Besides right guard Marshal Yanda, those three players are the team's best offensive linemen, which will pose some serious depth chart issues for Baltimore on Monday. James Hurst will start his fifth game this year at left tackle, and Ryan Jensen will start his second straight game in place of Osemele. The team already has a substitute center in (John Urschel), so it should be expected that Cleveland could take advantage.
For Cleveland, the left guard situation is still up-in-the-air as the team sees whether Joel Bitonio is ready to return from his ankle injury. If he can't go, then rookie Cameron Erving would make his second straight start. Regardless of who plays, Cleveland's offensive line needs to stop playing like a group of talented individuals and instead improve their communication to be a solid collective unit.
|DL||The Browns will be without defensive end Randy Starks, who suffered a knee injury prior to the bye week. Before the bye week, we saw glimpses of the run defense playing a bit more sound -- can that continue, and will Danny Shelton be a notable reason why?
The Ravens' defensive line rotation remains the same as the last time these teams met. Nose tackle Brandon Williams is solid against the run and will play a high volume of snaps -- much more than we'd see Shelton play. Timmy Jernigan plays a pass-rushing role from the middle. Chris Canty and Lawrence Guy are the team's other defensive lineman in the rotation as Carl Davis, the team's third-round pick, has seen less of a role.
|DB||The Browns will be without Joe Haden again, leaving them in a bind as to who will start on the outside. That spot opposite of Tramon Williams has been a liability this year, whether it be with Haden, Pierre Desir, Charles Gaines, Johnson Bademosi, or Justin Gilbert. Haden's replacement will be based on who had the "best week of practice." Strong safety Donte Whitner returns from a concussion to resume his starting role.
The Ravens' starting cornerbacks are Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, but the team might be looking for help at the nickelback position due to injury. Will Hill and Kendrick Lewis are the Ravens' starting safeties. The secondary was obviously torched by McCown earlier this year, and although they've had some stronger play over the past couple of weeks, it's not going to be night-and-day from the last meeting. PFF grades Will Hill grades as the 6th best safety in the NFL, and they say that Smith has been among the league's worst cornerbacks this year.
Raheem Mostert will be the Ravens' kick returner, and Kaelin Clay has been called upon to return punts. Lardarius Webb will be the team's fair catch specialist (alas Jim Leonhard for the Browns in 2014). Travis Benjamin won't have many punt return opportunities with Koch's punting. The Browns could roll with either Duke Johnson or Marlon Moore on kickoffs, but again, their opportunities will be limited due to Tucker.
Running back |
Fans who are thinking about draft position will be sorely disappointed after this one. The Ravens have sustained a lot of injuries this year, but the only thing keeping them somewhat of a competitive team was QB Joe Flacco. Without him, the offense is going to be crippled with no chemistry, regardless of what defense they are going up against. With Ravens drives stalling left and right, QB Josh McCown will have an average day en route to a prime time win.
Cleveland Browns 24, Baltimore Ravens 10
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