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Browns vs Ravens: 3 most important questions for Cleveland

Deshaun Watson, lost offensive tackles among top concerns for the Browns versus the Ravens

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Week 10 slate of NFL games seems to be lackluster but this upcoming divisional matchup between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens seems to be one of the more intriguing games on the slate (this game should’ve been flexed but let me stop).

Last week against the Arizona Cardinals was a “get-right” game while this week is more of a “statement” type game against the Ravens.

Another week playing on the NFL on Fox after playing on the NFL on CBS last week. Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma & Shannon Spake will be calling the game this week. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm. Here are the 3 things to watch for.

Is this the game that the Browns make a statement to the rest of the league?

Everyone knows, whether it is national or local media, that the Browns are a good team. But how good is this Cleveland team?

It’s a difference between being a playoff team and a Super Bowl team.

The Browns are a playoff team, whether people want to admit it or not but we know this team has a Super Bowl-level ceiling if everyone plays to their capabilities.

Sunday, against arguably the best team in the NFL, Cleveland has a chance to make a statement. The Browns made a small statement in their win against the San Francisco 49ers proving that they can hang with the top dogs in the league. This week they have to prove that they CAN beat the top dogs in the league.

If you were to read the transcripts and watch the interviews, the players know what is at stake and their approach is the right mindset.

I don’t view this game as the same as the 49ers game but it has some similarities. Baltimore currently looks unstoppable and some believe that Cleveland doesn’t have a chance in this game. However, it is a divisional game and these games can go either way.

If you wanna put the league on notice, nothing better than pulling it off on Sunday against one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

Will this be the game that quarterback Deshaun Watson proves that he is back?

After rewatching the broadcast and the all-22 of the Cardinals-Browns game, I have come to two realizations about quarterback Deshaun Watson:

  • If I had to give a percentage of how much Watson is back I’d say he is around 85% or 90% back (Imagine Goku from Dragon Ball Z in the healing chamber in terms of Watson. Editor’s Note: I’m too old to understand this reference but no younger folks will.)
  • The deep ball seems to be working and the zip is there.

It was always going to be a process for Watson to get back to what he was during Houston. Expecting him to be elite off the bat considering the layoff he had in 2022 then the shoulder injury was unrealistic. Against the Cardinals, he looked a bit spotty in the passing game but as the game progressed he settled in and looked more comfortable. His pocket movement, his processing and his ability to make tight-window throws were shown throughout the game.

His mechanics need to be tuned a bit, he tends to rush into his throws which affects how the ball comes out and his eyes were a bit slow in terms of finding his reads but all of that will improve as he gets more comfortable.

Baltimore’s defense is elite and they will provide a challenge for Watson but we shall see if he is back to the Watson we are accustomed to seeing.

How will the Browns offensive tackles hold up against Baltimore’s stout defensive line?

With the injury to offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, the Browns offensive line has lost both of their starting tackles at some point this season. Right tackle Jack Conklin was lost Week 1 and now Wills is on the IR (not season-ending).

Dawand Jones will also miss the game.

James Hudson is the only available tackle from the team’s original 53-man roster. The team signed Geron Christian to the active roster this week.

Without their top three tackles, things are likely to be tough for Cleveland this week. Baltimore’s defensive line doesn’t have a Myles Garrett on their team but they have guys who can get pressure and cause havoc. Ravens defensive linemen Broderick Washington, Justin Madubuike, Odafe Oweh, Jadeveon Clowney and Michael Pierce have been stout and they will Cleveland a test.

Cleveland will have to be prepared to handle this pass rush which leads the league in sacks but the tackle spots will be watched closely. Look for Oweh and Clowney to alternate on both sides and look for defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald to be creative in his defensive game plan.

What is your biggest question going into Sunday’s game?