The first time the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns played, it was a tale of two different teams peaking at different teams during the game. The Ravens outplayed the Browns for most of the game, and a 63-yard interception return for a TD seemed to seal the victory. However, the Browns refused to go away and rookie QB Brandon Weeden had his best game as a pro.Holding Cleveland to two long FG's down the stretch made the difference as Baltimore held on for a 23-16 win.
Now the scene shifts to Cleveland for part two of the season's series and if ever the Browns wanted to win a game, it is this weekend. Fresh off an 7-6 upset of the San Diego Charger and facing a Ravens team witha reeling defense, they feel they are prime to pull off another upset.
Baltimore is also fresh, but due to having the week off on their bye, and hopefully had enough time to make changes in their defense which is now closer to the bottom of the league than its normal spot near the top of the NFL. The offense has had its share of problems on the road and needs to change that as well if the Ravens hope to play a complete game for the first time since opening day.
The Ravens have not lost to the Browns since before Joe Flacco could even grow a Fu Manchu and when Ray Rice was yay tall (oops, he still is yay tall!). Things might be tough, but the outcome shouldn't change this weekend and the trend will continue. Baltimore has been perfect off of their bye week in the John Harbaugh era and that streak will continue Sunday when the Ravens will be good enough to defeat the Browns once again.
The expectation of a complete game may be a stretch based on the issues this Ravens team has had in the past, be it the past years or even this season. However, a complete game for 60 minutes has rarely been this team's strength and just won't be needed to beat a 2-6 Browns team.
Many people see this game a lot closer than it should be and while the final score will probably not be a good indication of the contest, the Ravens should dominate and win. The week of couldn't have come at a better time and despite getting blown out by the Houston Texans in the previous game, there is little comparison between the Texans and the Browns.
Flacco had a solid game against Cleveland the first time they met (356 yards). Of course Weeden had his best game (320 yards) but completed less than 50% of his passes while Joe hit on just over 60%. The Ravens need to get the ball into Rice's hands more often, as the Ravens are still more successful the more carries he gets.
The defense has had time to re-focus its attention knowing they will have to move on without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Haloti Ngata was hurting but should be much healthier. Terrell Suggs made his first appearance of the season and played remarkably week in his first action and now has had two weeks to get in better shape and ready to explode into the Browns backfield and set his teammates up for less attention and better production.
Expect the Ravens defense to improve greatly with the addition of the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the offense to control the ball and the clock for a change. The Ravens are without a doubt a better team on the field than the Browns and will prove it to Cleveland, the league's critics, their fans and most importantly, to themselves as they add the confidence needed to attack the rest of the season and remain atop the AFC North with a victory Sunday.