This will be exactly like that first matchup with the Browns, a heavy dose of Ray Rice. I fully expect Rice to see over 20 carries in this game and maybe somewhere close to 30 total touches. With Anquan Boldin out, this will mean that an emphasis on the run game will come into play. It also means a more increased role from Torrey Smith and Lee Evans if we want to move the ball on the outside. Expect Cam to run those guys deep, with the TE's running underneath as they always do, moving the chains 10 yards at a time until Rice can break one or QB Joe Flacco hits Torrey for his 8th TD of the year on a deep bomb. We will see yet another performance by Vonta Leach where he makes LB's fold up like lawn chairs. Look for 240 passing yards from Joe including a 62 yard TD to Torrey Smith along with 200 total yards for Rice and another 55 rushing from Ricky Williams and 2 TD's. Shayne Graham kicks 2 more field goals, but misses one as well.
On defense, I don't expect this game to be AS easy as some may think it will be. Seneca Wallace gave us some trouble last year, and we were losing pretty badly to them at one point. He is very mobile, so I don't expect many sacks. And he can also throw a tight spiral. Luckily for us, the Browns WR are about as polar opposite to the Chargers WR as you can get. If Lardarius Webb is still hurt, would prefer to have him at a limited role this game and let Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams regain their confidence that has made them look like such good players at times this season. Ravens 27 Browns 13
(Click on the 'Jump' to see lastcallbmore & vlad755's picks)
This game will come down to how effective the Ravens can be with their play-action. Ray Rice is going to get the ball and he will make some plays. However, Cleveland is going to do everything in their power to stop the run. It is a pride thing at this point for them. Without Anquan Boldin, Baltimore will be in a lot of two tight end formations and Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta should be able to make big plays on play-action by faking the block and then releasing into the open field.
Cleveland is an enigma on offense. They ranked almost dead last in almost all offensive categories with Colt McCoy at quarterback but this week it will be Seneca Wallace behind center and he brings a whole new set of challenges. Wallace is very similar to Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle and the Ravens did have a hard time with him. The pass rush usually steps it up at home and they will need to create pressure in this game. Wallace is a veteran QB and is capable of making teams pay if they do not make it home on the rush.
In the end Cleveland will be a bit more competitive than last time but the Ravens are too good at home to drop this pivotal game to a division opponent. Ravens win 27-10 to set up a huge road game in Cincinnati.
With the injury to Boldin, I do not believe our offense will be clicking on all cylinders. Having said that, I do believe we have a much better team than Cleveland. And as Indy proved last night, going on the road in the NFL is never easy. I know Cleveland has put a renewed emphasis on stopping the run, but I think Rice, led by Leach, will be too much for them to handle. In addition, I think the Ravens passing game will be efficient enough to keep the Cleveland defense honest. The x-factor in this game will be Seneca Wallace, if he plays. His legs could provide issues for our defense, both in extending plays and legging out critical third-down conversions when we would have sacked other QB's. I am predicting Ravens up 13-3 at halftime and winning 23-6. I think this game will be "harder" than we expect it to be as fans in which we are expecting the Ravens to roll at home, but nothing comes easy for this team this season. Merry Christmas everybody.