BALTIMORE (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns hit the road for their first test away from home Sunday in Baltimore where they look to even the ledger at 1-1.
Cleveland is coming off a tough Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh at home that saw their comeback in the fourth quarter fall short while the Ravens open the home portion of their schedule after a dominating 20-0 shutout of the Bengals in Cincinnati. It was the first shutout for the Ravens since blanking the Browns 16-0 in 2009.
DeShone Kizer makes his second start for the Browns after throwing for 222 yards, a touchdown and interception while completing 20 of 30 passes last week against the Steelers. He also ran for another score.
Receiver Corey Coleman, who led the Browns with 5 catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, lit the Ravens up last year in Week 2 that saw him catch 5 passes for 104 yards and 2 TDs last September before breaking his right hand in practice that caused him to miss 6 weeks just 3 days following the game.
Defensively, the Browns had a strong debut holding Pittsburgh to just 35 yards rushing and 2 touchdown drives but they’ll be tested against what appears to be a ground and pound offense from Baltimore.
Sunday’s result should provide a better picture of where the Browns really are as a team.
What to Watch For – Sack attack: Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was sacked 7 times and hit on multiple other occasions by the Steelers. After the Ravens dropped Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton 5 times in Week 1, Hue Jackson would like to see Kizer get the ball out much faster than he did in his debut. If Kizer can do his part to keep himself clean, the odds of him taking the next step in his progression increase immensely.
The run game: last week Isaiah Crowell was held to 1.9 yards per carry finishing with 33 yards on 17 attempts. Back up back Duke Johnson did not line up in the backfield, instead he lined up at receiver but the Browns hope to get both Crowell and Johnson going on the ground against a stout Ravens front-7.
Make a play: The Browns receiving corps needs to do more to help Kizer. Saturday the Browns signed Ricardo Louis off of the practice squad to the active roster to give them more bodies at the position after playing 4 receivers last week. Corey Coleman led the group with 5 catches for 53 yards and a TD and 3 of the 4 wideouts who played caught a pass. Missed opportunities like the deep ball to Kasen Williams that saw him drift too close to the sideline as well as an early fourth quarter drop by veteran Kenny Britt short-circuited the comeback attempt. The larger the window they can provide Kizer to throw to the better as Kizer develops his ability to make quicker reads and throws from the pocket.
Ball security: Baltimore forced 5 turnovers in Cincinnati, including 4 interceptions, so Kizer will have to watch where he throws the ball this week. He got burned when he tried to throw over Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt and won’t get away with those throws this week.
Stop the run, again: After allowing just 35 yards in Week 1, the Browns run defense will be tested after the Ravens ran it 42 times against the Bengals for 157 yards and a touchdown last week. Former Browns running back Terrance West, who is trying to revive his career with the Ravens, totaled 80 yards on 19 carries last week including a score. With Joe Flacco easing his way into things coming off of the back injury, it’s expected that John Harbaugh will try to keep it on the ground again this week. If the Browns are be able to slow Baltimore’s ground game, it will begin to validate some early thoughts about Gregg Williams’ new-look D.
Streaks, Stats & Notes – The Ravens have won three straight in the lopsided series between the franchise that moved from Cleveland and the one currently residing there.
The Browns are winless on the road since a 33-30 OT victory at Baltimore in October 2015.
Browns LT Joe Thomas has been in all 9,996 offensive snaps since joining Browns as the third overall pick in 2007.
Browns WR Kenny Britt is 106 yards receiving short of 5,000 for his career.
Baltimore is 14-2 in September home games under coach John Harbaugh.
Baltimore QB Joe Flacco is 15-2 lifetime against the Browns, with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in those 17 games.
Ravens WR Mike Wallace has 4 career TDs vs. Cleveland, including 2 in their first meeting last year.
Ravens LB Terrell Suggs had 2 sacks in the opener, his 24th career game with multiple sacks, most among active players. Suggs has 17 career sacks against the Browns.
Rankings – AP PRO32: Ravens No. 12, Browns No. 29; CBS Sports: Ravens No. 16, Browns 28.
Browns Offense — Overall (23), Rush (25), Pass (20).
Browns Defense — Overall (14), Rush (T-1), Pass (T-19).
Ravens Offense — Overall (20), Rush (3), Pass (29).
Ravens Defense — Overall (4), Rush (14), Pass (5).
Last Week – Browns lost to the Steelers 21-18; Ravens beat the Bengals 20-0
The Last Time – Nov. 10, 2016: Ravens beat the Browns 28-7.
Series History – Ravens lead 27-9
Projected Starters – OFFENSE: WR Corey Coleman, LT Joe Thomas, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Shon Coleman, TE Randall Telfer, WR Kenny Britt, QB DeShone Kizer, RB Isaiah Crowell, FB Danny Vitale.
DEFENSE: DE Nate Orchard, DT Trevon Coley, DT Danny Shelton, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, WILL Christian Kirksey, MIKE Joe Schobert, SAM Jamie Collins, CB Jason McCourty, CB Jamar Taylor, S Jabrill Peppers, S Derrick Kindred.
Injury Report – OUT: DE Myles Garrett (ankle), DL T.Y. McGill (back); EXPECTED TO PLAY: RG Kevin Zeitler (thumb), LT Joe Thomas (knee/rest), DT Danny Shelton (knee); FULL: DL Caleb Brantley (finger), WR Kenny Britt (knee), RB Duke Johnson (chest), TE Randall Telfer (knee)
Broadcast Information – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX, 850 AM and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network; TV: WOIO Cleveland 19 (CBS).
Kickoff – 1:03 p.m. – M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)