This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, and general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Getting Some Perspective
- The Browns suffered a bad 28-3 loss to the Ravens back in Week 4, but we need to put that loss into perspective again. Dorian Thompson-Robinson got a spot start with no preparation, and the gameplan was still the downfield attack meant for Deshaun Watson. The outcome was terrible quarterback play, and the offense was basically as inept as the Cardinals were last week against Cleveland. That storyline should be wiped this time, and it’s good that Watson got a productive game under his belt last week.
- Lamar Jackson was the first quarterback who got the better of the Browns’ defense this season. Their first quarter score was a result of a turnover by Cleveland’s offense, so it was the second quarter where the Ravens’ offense was in control against our defense. In the second half, though, the defense basically put the clamps on Jackson and the Ravens’ offense. The Browns’ defense has the talent to stop any offense, but Jim Schwartz will need to have the unit prepared so that they don’t let Baltimore go on a “big run.” It’s ok if Baltimore has success offensively, and that should be expected — but within the flow of the game, it needs to be paced out so the offense and team morale can stay in the game, and then you hopefully have the defense come up with the last laugh at the end.
Not Treating the Ravens Lightly
- The first section was just to make the point on how you can throw away a lot of what happened in that first game due to the quarterback situation, but that the Browns’ defense also got the chance to be humbled and (hopefully) understand what they did wrong. Still, the Ravens cannot be taken lightly at all.
- This is a Ravens team that destroyed the Lions 38-6, and destroyed the Seahawks 37-3. Those outcomes both happened in Baltimore, so the Ravens are clicking on all cylinders.
- For as good as Baltimore’s offense has been with their rushing attack, their defense has been outstanding. Besides Cleveland, the Ravens have been the best defense in football, ranking 2nd in yards allowed, 8th in rushing yards, 2nd in pass defense, 3rd in sack rate, 1st in red zone defense, and tops in the NFL as far as allowing the least amount of points goes.
- The stakes are certainly high for this week, more so for the Browns. If Cleveland wins, they would even the season series and be within 1⁄2 game of Baltimore. If Cleveland loses, they will be 21⁄2 games back, but it’ll really be worst than that because they would not own any head-to-head tiebreaker over them. The odds of winning the AFC North would practically go down the drain.
- The left and right tackle situation is the biggest thing for Browns fans to monitor this week. Jedrick Wills was already out, and now Dawand Jones is out for Sunday as well. That will put James Hudson at right tackle, with several options for left tackle. The question for Cleveland is whether you try to disrupt the least number of positions, or whether you pull out the old playbook and have Joel Bitonio move over to left tackle and Nick Harris fill in at left guard. I would prefer slotting in Bitonio there, but we’ll see.
- Matt Wilson pointed out two potential weaknesses for Baltimore: they allow quite a few sacks on Lamar Jackson, and the defense sometimes yields a good amount of yardage to tight ends.
- S Geno Stone has been a key player for Baltimore’s defense.
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 6.5 point underdogs against the Ravens.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “People are counting the Browns out a bit this week. It’s understandable, given how well Baltimore has played. However, I think Cleveland’s defense comes out much sharper against the Ravens than they did in the previous meeting. It’ll still be a challenge to score against this Ravens team, but Watson getting the deep ball on track last week was huge, because it opens things up. And, to be honest, if he can sustain those long throws, no defense can stop that. Cleveland gets a healthy mix of both sides of the football coming through for a tight win.” Browns 20, Ravens 17
Thomas Moore: “There should be no surprises for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Baltimore. They know what the Ravens do on defense. They know what quarterback Lamar Jackson is capable of on offense. The question is, what are the Browns prepared to do about it?
Cleveland’s defense has put up some incredible performances this season and enjoy talking about it. Not to diminish what they accomplished last weekend, but they are not facing the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Clayton Tune this week.
The offense has been less successful for a variety of reasons and heads into the weekend with questions at both tackle positions because of injuries. They’ve somehow made it work on offense for the past four games, and Deshaun Watson is back at quarterback, but there are still several reasons for concern.
The path to victory is clear for the Browns - have a big day on defense, find a way to run the ball, and don’t turn it over on offense. Can they do that? Sure. Can they do that on Sunday against the Ravens? I want to believe they can, but until they show they can, it is hard to believe they will.” Ravens 17, Browns 10.
Barry Shuck: “The Browns have a superb defense that can change the course of any contest. And now that they have a reliable QB, the offense may not be the crutch that it has been for most of the season. Having said that, I believe the Ravens are the best team in the league. They do not possess the best record and currently are not even the Number 1 seed in the AFC, but they just dominate their opponents. Get this: Baltimore has a point differential of plus-115. That is more than 35 better than any other NFL club. The Ravens’ average margin of victory is an astounding 20 points. Make it a close first half, but I believe Baltimore will pull away in the second half. Right now, the Browns are more field goal-reliant in scoring than touchdown-prone.” Browns 37, Ravens 20
Jared Mueller: “The Cleveland Browns are a very good team but the Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the NFL right now. I most certainly believe the Browns can win this game and wouldn’t even be shocked if they blew out the Ravens.
For now, they have to prove it before I’ll predict it.” Ravens 24, Browns 21
Curtiss Brown: “I thought about comparing this upcoming matchup between the Browns-Ravens to the last battle of Attack on Titan but that would take too long so I’m not gonna do that. This game had flex potential considering what is at stake for both teams but the NFL had other plans in mind. The Baltimore Ravens, as of right now is the best team in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns are one of the better teams in the NFL currently. Baltimore took care of Cleveland easily last time but Deshaun Watson wasn’t playing. The Browns kept the game close in the 1st quarter until the 2nd quarter happened and things unraveled. Two of the best defenses in the league will make their case as to who’s better (both are great so we should appreciate them both.) Cleveland is great due to the talent and scheme, and while Baltimore doesn’t necessarily possess the star power on defense, they are executing within the scheme.
As far as the quarterback battle goes, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson have had their battles going back to their college days. Could we see that happen on Sunday? Watson is around 85% to 90% back while Jackson is playing at an MVP level. I could see both QB’s playing well or one playing well while the other struggles. Or one of the two. Cleveland gave Lamar some issues last time and I expect them to give Lamar issues again this week. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cleveland lost this game but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they won. Cleveland beat San Francisco and no one believed in them, so why not now? Close game with overtime potential but Baltimore is clicking, and Cleveland isn’t clicking just yet. Give me Baltimore on a walkoff Justin Tucker game winner in an emotional game for both sides.” Ravens 27, Browns 24
Ezweav: “The Ravens are a very good team, but so are the Browns. Yes they beat us handily the first time around but we all know the extenuating circumstances. That result WILL NOT happen again, and I’d be willing to bet every player on both sides of the ball are eager to show what an aberration that first contest was.
Defensely we actually didn’t do terribly against them last time, you just can’t keep giving any NFL offense the ball over and over (without any offensive threat) and not give up a bunch of points. Again, that won’t be the case this time around.
Baltimore has a good defense but it’s because of scheme, not exceptional talent. Deshaun Watson has a fast processor and in this game I see him beating their blitzes because someone is always open when you send extra rushers. But they have to, they can’t just get pressure with their front four like we can.
Good guys are going to punch them in the mouth and then hang on late.” Browns 20, Ravens 19
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.