The Cleveland Browns will travel to Baltimore to face their division rival Ravens.
22 years later, the hate still exists for the city of Baltimore who took the original Browns away when they struck a deal with then owner Art Modell to move the team away from Cleveland.
Two Super Bowls later, the hate is even stronger as those championships should be the Browns championships.
But that’s all in the past, let’s focus on the present.
The Browns are coming off a 21-18 loss to the Steelers despite the defense giving up 14 points to one of the best offenses in football and DeShone Kizer showing promise and hope for the future at the quarterback position.
As for Baltimore, they shut out the Cincinnati Bengals 20-0. Joe Flacco struggled only completing 52% for 121 yards. The Ravens offense relied heavy on the running game with 42 attempts. Javorius Allen and Terrance West combined for 151 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens defense was the biggest takeaway from their season opener with 5 sacks, 4 interceptions and a forced fumble as they dominated the very struggling Cincinnati offense. A mix of young promising players and some veterans like Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle have made the Ravens defense one of the best in the NFL.
Out: DE Myles Garrett (ankle), DT T.Y. McGill (back)
Out: DB Jaylen Hill (thigh), DB Sheldon Price (concussion), LB Za’Darius Smith (knee, ankle)
Questionable: WR Michael Campanaro (ankle), LB Tim Williams (illness)
Matchup to Watch
Terrance West/Javorius Allen vs Browns Run Defense
The Browns run defense shut down Pittsburgh’s running game in the opener, limiting them to 35 yards on the ground.
I think with Bell’s late arrival to start the season that he was a little rusty but the Browns took full advantage of the situation and capitalized to force Pittsburgh to throw.
This week they’ll go up against a solid tandem of West and Allen.
Browns fans should be familiar with West as he was the team’s third round pick in 2014. His attitude sent him packing before the 2015 season but he’s found a home in Baltimore. Allen is in his third season with Baltimore and has proven he can make plays on the ground and through the air as a running back.
The duo shredded Cincinnati’s defense last week and will be coming full steam ahead towards Gregg Williams’ defense this week.
I’d fully expect the Browns to want to come out and prove that last week was no fluke and that they can be a great run stopping team in the NFL.
Keep an eye on rookie defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. He only played 17 snaps but he was able to give Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey a hard time and had a defensive stop as well as two solo tackles. He graded out as the top interior defender on run defense by Pro Football Focus.
I’m sure Gregg Williams noticed and Ogunjobi will see more time on the field.
I fully expect this game to be a defensive fight. Kizer is going to have some growing pains against this stout Ravens defense and will struggle against the tough secondary Baltimore presents.
Flacco had a rough time against Cincinnati and I’d expect that to continue against Cleveland and with an ailing back injury that kept him out during the entire preseason, I’d be nervous going up against a Gregg Williams defense if I was him.
This game is going to come down to special teams in my opinion. Whether it’s a big return by either team or down to the kicking game. The Ravens have an All-Pro in Justin Tucker while the Browns have a rookie in Zane Gonzalez.
I think on Sunday, the torch for best kicker in the AFC North gets passed down by the old guard to the young blood.
Gonzalez hits five field goals and the Browns win their first game of 2017.
Browns 15 Ravens 12