Week 9: Baltimore Ravens At Cleveland Browns
- QuarterbacksJoe Flacco is on the cusp of ranking with the best quarterbacks in the game. He has shown he can make every throw required to be a great signal-caller and he also has the requisite athletic ability to get away from pressure. However, Flacco must prove his consistency. He can usually rise to the occasion against top-level opponents, but he may not always be inspired against beatable foes.The Browns know that Brandon Weeden is a work in progress. He is going to have a few excellent moments, but he will struggle most of the time. That’s what happened in Week Eight against the Chargers, but he did not throw an interception while completing 11-of-27 passes for 129 yards. Weeden learns something knew each game.
- OffenseThe Ravens have the ability to dominate any game with an explosive offense. Ray Rice is probably the best all-around back in the game because he excels as a runner and a receiver and he can also hold his own as a blocker. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin can make the tough catches to keep drives alive while Torrey Smith is a pretty good deep weapon.The Browns are best when they feature rookie running back Trent Richardson. He was the dominant player in the Week Eight win over the Chargers because he ran for 122 yards and scored the lone touchdown on a sharp 26-yard TD run. Wide receiver Josh Gordon is rapidly becoming the Browns’ most dangerous wide receiver. Ben Watson can still be a decent contributor from the tight end position.
- DefenseThe Ravens are going to try to compete without linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season. It won’t be easy, even though pass rushing specialist Terrell Suggs has returned to the lineup. The Ravens have struggled on the defensive end much of the season and it doesn’t figure to get much better any time soon.The Browns have been playing much-improved pass defense over the last two weeks. They have allowed 340 passing yards the last two games and this team uses tight coverage to shut down opposing receivers. Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has become one of the most underrated players in the league. He had a massive 14 tackles against the Chargers.
- Special TeamsThe Ravens are much happier with their field goal kicking than they have been in the past. Justin Tucker has made 14-of-15 field goal attempts this season, including 4-of-4 from 50 yards and beyond. Sam Koch is averaging 47.2 yards per punt.The Browns are always confident that they can win the game if it comes down to a Phil Dawson field goal because he has a big leg and projects confidence. Return man Josh Cribbs has the kind of speed to exploit ordinary special teams play.
The Browns should feel pretty good about themselves because they are playing hard and starting to pick up victories. While they don’t compare to the Ravens in offensive talent, the Browns don’t give in or give up. They are a solid team on defense and confidence should be high after beating San Diego. The Ravens need a solid effort to show they can play without their injured defensive stars.