No, this is not a joke post, guys, and the answer is not to just show up! This is the NFL and if the Ravens feel this way like so many fans seem to feel, they will be sadly embarassed just like the Green Bay Packers and their fans were as they left Lambeau Field last Sunday in shock after the Cincinnati Bengals punked them in their own crib.
However, if the Ravens play anywhere near their potential, it won't matter if the Browns play lights out as Baltimore has way too much more talent on both sides of the ball than Cleveland does.
More on "How To Beat The Cleveland Browns" after the 'Jump.'
The Browns have been beaten twice so far in 2009, by the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos. They have scored only one offensive touchdown, a meaningless TD pass late in their opening day 34-20 loss to the Vikings. They could only muster a couple of first quarter field goals in their 27-6 loss in Denver last week. While Brady Quinn has retained his starting gig, Derek Anderson's name is already being mentioned as replacing him if this losing trend continues. However, you can't pin this all on the QB, as the runing game has been non-existent and the right side of the offensive line has collapsed, putting Quinn on the run way too often. Defensively, the Browns are not playing too bad at all, but being on the field all the time while the offense continues to flounder is something this defense cannot do nearly as well as the one that carried the Ravens for so many years up until now.
Up until now is the key phrase of what has happened to the Baltimore offense. While the Ravens defense is mentioned as not being as tough as it was under Rex Ryan, the offense has come alive and has moved the ball all over the field in both their games. Whether it be through the air or on the ground, Baltimore has been able to dictate the pace of the game and has ground out scores from all over the field, be it long, time consuming drives or long passes, both which have happened with amazing regularity this season.
That doesn't add up to an attractive matchup for the Browns, as neither their offense nor their defense matches up well with the Ravens. All it seems the Ravens need to do is stay away from giving up the big play to the Browns in order to continue their winning ways and end Sunday at 3-0 and still atop the AFC North. The possibility of the big play lies in the Browns return games, with returner Joshua Cribbs always ripping off huge returns against Baltimore as well as the rest of the league. Cribbs already has a TD return this year and will try to put points on the board for Cleveland or at least put them in short field position for easy scores. The Ravens task is to stay in their lanes and not let Cribbs get in open space as he has dreadlocks, which is my theory that all the guys in dreads are good in the NFL and Cribbs is no execption to that theory.
Beyond Cribbs, the Quinn to Braylon Edwards connection can be a dangerous one, but Edwards is not quite the threat that San Diego's WR's presented, as he is Cleveland's only big receiving threat and we should be able to provide better help to whichever corner is assigned to cover him. The pass rush should force Quinn to get rid of the ball and expect the Ravens opportunistic defense to begin collecting similar stats to last year after being questioned in last week's victory over the Chargers.
Once the Ravens get a decent lead, expect to see a lot of the "3 headed monster" that is Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain. Prior to that, Joe Flacco has a bevy of receivers that while not superstars, are good enough to catch his accurate throws. Flacco hit seven different receivers last week and that should continue this week and might even improve, as tight end L.J. smith is expected to return to action.
Baltimore has too much talent on both sides of the ball to get upset this Sunday, unless they are just dogging it and take the Browns lightly, which I doubt they will. Conversely, Cleveland has so many issues, both on and off the field from their players to their new coach, Eric Mangini. The rivalry between these teams extend far beyond the sidelines of the playing field, to the move of the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore and the well deserving induction of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But those are topics that have been regurgitated more than I want to continue to discuss so Ravens fans should just now focus on the task at hand this Sunday and plan on continuing their path to the Big Game in February.