The Cleveland Browns (0-13) sit just three losses away from the rock bottom of football purgatory and becoming the second team in NFL history (2008 Detroit Lions).
While he’s been given the 2018 season by owner Jimmy Haslam, Hue Jackson’s seat is still red hot with a 1-28 record during his two seasons as Browns head coach.
With new general manager John Dorsey evaluating the organization from top to bottom, Jackson better start holding himself more accountable for the record instead of constantly trying to blame Sashi Brown who was fired a week ago this past Thursday.
Dorsey’s comments this past week about the roster not having “real players” sent a direct message to the current Browns roster which he’s already been shuffling around since taking the job.
DeShone Kizer is trying to make the best of these final four weeks with a three touchdown performance last week against Green Bay before an unnecessary interception in the opening possession of overtime allowed the Packers to complete the comeback with a 27-21 win.
The rookie knows he’s got to make a convincing case down the stretch to prove he can be the long term solution for the Browns who will likely have the first overall pick in the NFL Draft and potential franchise quarterbacks staring them down for them to select.
This week’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) currently sit outside of the playoffs based on tiebreakers with the Buffalo Bills who are also 7-6.
A remaining schedule of Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati who are all below .500 gives Baltimore at least a chance to make the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Joe Flacco’s performance has picked up during the second half of the season.
In the eight games, he threw six touchdowns, eight interceptions and was sacked 17 times. Baltimore’s record was 4-4.
In the last five games, he’s thrown seven touchdowns, four interceptions and only been sacked seven times. Baltimore is 3-2 in that span.
These two teams met during Week 2 earlier this season with Baltimore winning 24-10.
It’s memorable because Kizer left during the first half with migraines but returned only to struggle throughout the contest against the tough Ravens defense.
I would expect this matchup on Sunday to be no different.
Team Stats (League Rank)
Total Yards: CLE-311.4 ypg (T-23rd), BAL-298.1 ypg (27th)
Passing: CLE-203.2 ypg (23rd), BAL-179.8 ypg (30th)
Rushing: CLE-108.2 ypg (17th), BAL-118.3 ypg (9th)
Scoring: CLE-15.2 ppg (32nd), BAL-24.5 ppg (9th)
Total Yards: CLE-328.3 ypg (12th), BAL-329.2 ypg (14th)
Passing: CLE-232.3 ypg (21st), BAL-220.7 ypg (12th)
Rushing: CLE-96 ypg (6th), BAL-108.5 ypg (13th)
Scoring: CLE-25.8 ppg (T-29th), BAL-18.9 ppg (4th)
Doubtful: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee)
Questionable : WR Matt Hazel (hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (foot)
Questionable: DB Maurice Canady (knee), OL Jermaine Elumunor (shoulder), OL Ryan Jensen (ankle), QB Ryan Mallett (illness), WR Chris Moore (hip), LB Za’Darius Smith (shoulder), WR Mike Wallace (ankle)
Matchup To Watch
LT Spencer Drango vs LB Terrell Suggs
For the first time since 2006, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs won’t have to worry about going up against Joe Thomas. Thomas is missing his first matchup against Baltimore during his career as he continues to recover from his torn tricep he suffered earlier this season.
Second year player Spencer Drango gets the opportunity to go up against the 15 year veteran who has 18 career sacks in 26 games against Cleveland. At 35 years old, Suggs doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon as he has 11 sacks this season which ranks tied for 6th in the NFL.
Drango has allowed seven sacks this season which is tied for 7th most in the NFL according to Fox Sports.
It’s his job to protect DeShone Kizer’s blindside and he needs to do that on Sunday or Suggs will wreak havoc in the Browns backfield all day.
If you’ve read all my previews all season, you know I haven’t picked the Browns to win since about Week 4 or 5. There’s a reason for it.
While I think the Browns have added “real players” despite what John Dorsey over the past two seasons. There’s just not enough to win consistently or even a game this season.
Baltimore has the playoffs in their crosshairs and smell blood in the water as they roll into Cleveland. Their defense dominated Kizer and Co. earlier this season and I’d expect them to do it again.
Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman against the Ravens secondary should be something to watch but it won’t be enough as for the second time since the team’s return in 1999, the Cleveland Browns will go winless in a season at First Energy Stadium.
Ravens 24 Browns 6