In their lone prime time game this season, the Cleveland Browns travel to Baltimore tonight to face their AFC North rival Ravens. This is the second meeting this season between the two teams. They met up in Week 2 and it was a wild game for sure.
The Browns jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter behind two Corey Coleman receiving touchdowns and a 85 yard touchdown by Isaiah Crowell. But once Baltimore blocked the Browns PAT and returned it for a two point conversion, all Cleveland’s momentum was lost.
Baltimore went on to score 25 unanswered points and defeat the Browns 25-20. The Browns are looking to redeem the collapse they suffered in Week 2 but also still looking for the first win of the Hue Jackson era as well as snap a franchise record 12 game losing streak.
The Ravens are 4-4, tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the division. Last week they fought off a late rally by the Steelers to win 21-14.
They’ve been a strange team all season, starting off 3-0 then went on a four game losing streak before beating Pittsburgh. Dealing with injuries on both sides, they’ve been resilient and showing they won’t lay down to anyone with coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco leading the way.
Matchup to watch
Joe Haden vs Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace is having a comeback season with the Baltimore Ravens. The 30 year old receiver struggled for three seasons with Miami and Minnesota after being one of the top receivers in the game with Pittsburgh for his four seasons of his career.
In eight games this season, Wallace has caught 39 passes for 614 yards and four touchdowns, eclipsing already his numbers with Minnesota last season. Last week he had 124 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers and showed his speed is still dynamic as he burned the defense on his 95 yard touchdown.
He’ll likely matchup against Joe Haden who while is still grading out as a top corner, can’t seem to stay on the field anymore. He missed 11 games last season with injuries and so far this season, he’s missed three games with a groin injury. Many speculate this will be his final season with the Cleveland Browns.
He had his best game of the season against Baltimore in Week 2. Flacco targeted the receiving Haden covered often and Joe made him pay for it by picking off the former Super Bowl MVP twice.
If Haden wants to silence some critics tonight, shutting down Mike Wallace would be a good start.
*Haden is currently listed as questionable for tonight’s game.
Keys to the Game
Finish the Job
Hue Jackson and the Browns have received a reality check several times this season. They get off to a hot start and are leading at halftime. Three times this season, the Browns have blown halftime leads (Ravens, Dolphins, Jets).
If the Browns get out front early, don’t take the foot off the gas. Teams make halftime adjustments and figure out how to beat our defense and shut down our offense. Cleveland needs to also make adjustments to make sure the opposing team can’t stop us.
Open up the running game
Once again last week, the Browns running game was dead on arrival. It didn’t help that center Cam Erving got ejected on the opening drive of the game which led to another shuffle of the offensive line.
Isaiah Crowell ran for 133 yards against this Baltimore earlier this season. I would give him the ball and keep feeding him to wear down the Baltimore defense. I’d also get Duke Johnson involved with some tosses to the outside to let him get out in open space to use his speed.
Cleveland 34 Baltimore 30
I think and know the Browns can beat this team. They proved it earlier this season, just couldn’t finish it off. The AFC North looks weak all over and it shows in all four teams’ records. Browns just need to play all four quarters against this team.