This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Baltimore Ravens. To help preview a few topics from the Ravens’ perspective, we reached out to Kyle Barber from Baltimore Beatdown and exchanged five questions with him.
Chris: “After defeating the Browns 28-3 in Week 4, Baltimore is 4-1 since then, including four straight victories. Something extra seems to have “clicked” for Baltimore during that stretch to pull off dominant victories — what has been the key for that to happen?”
Kyle: “A lot of players have talked about buying in. On defense, it’s unselfish play. “If one man eat, we all eat,” was what inside linebacker Patrick Queen told me. Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald talked about it on Thursday.
“That’s something we talk about as a unit all the time about, ‘Hey look at this guy doing a great job that set up this guy. So, this guy made a great play, but he was able to make a play because these three guys are doing a great job setting this guy up for success,’” Macdonald said.
On offense, it’s becoming a more balanced squad. They have the passing weapons to get downfield, but they aren’t forgetting their roots as a rushing offense. And in the red zone, they’re scoring more touchdowns which was a big factor in defeating the Browns the first time.”
Chris: “Odell Beckham was inactive due to an injury the last time these two teams met, but has played since then. How many snaps has Beckham been averaging, and is there a certain role the team seems to be utilizing him in?”
Kyle: “Beckham is averaging 38 snaps per game. He’s on the field constantly. He’s the third-most targeted pass catcher in the offense, too. The problem has really been not gaining enough separation and defenders holding him constantly. He’s drawn so many flags because cornerbacks keep pulling and yanking at him which sucks in the stat sheet, but he’s technically moving the chains.”
Chris: “Injury-wise, besides OBJ, are there any big changes since the last time these two teams met?”
Kyle: “Definitely some. After all, the Ravens had all 53 players participate in Friday’s walk-through practice. Though, it’s tough to gauge whether or not some were actively working or just standing for the little we could see.
Overall, they’re healthy, they look sharp and the injury front isn’t their concern”
Chris: “The Ravens had the benefit of facing a rookie quarterback in Week 4 against the Browns, who had no time to prepare. What are fans expecting against Deshaun Watson, who is coming off his best game of the season?”
Kyle: “Fans are expecting a far closer game. The Ravens defense have been known to capitalize on rookie quarterbacks. But an experienced veteran who at one point was among the NFL’s elite? This will be a far more serious game.
The Ravens are taking it as such, too. Head Coach John Harbaugh has been notably focused and complimentary of the Browns. The Ravens aren’t taking this for anything other than a big-deal contest. The locker room has not rested on their laurels.”
Chris: “The Browns are early underdogs against the Ravens on Sunday (Browns +6.5 as of this question, per DraftKings Sportsbook). Who would you pick against the spread?”
Kyle: “This is a rough pick, but I’m going with the Ravens. They’re on one of the best tears we’ve seen since 2019. They’re going against contenders and winning big. Honestly, I say it because the Browns are a great team and the Ravens are playing to their competition so much this season. If the Browns were a worse off team, the Ravens wouldn’t give their all and it could end up like the Indianapolis Colts game, or the Arizona Cardinals matchup. But the Ravens are firing on all cylinders and I think the home team is just too good this Sunday.”
Thanks again to Kyle for taking the time to answer my questions.