Expect a slugfest this Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns. The rushing attacks for both teams are likely to be stifled as the Browns held the Steelers to 35 total rushing yards at 2.1 yards per carry last week and the Ravens boast perhaps the best interior triangle of run stuffers in the NFL between Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and C.J. Mosley. Therefore, whichever team is able to make more plays in the passing game will probably earn the victory.
Five key macthups:
WR Mike Wallace vs CB Jamar Taylor
Wallace was targeted only once in Week 1, securing an eight yard reception. With Cleveland’s offensive line and run defense posing a tougher test than Cincinnati, the Ravens will likely be forced to pass more frequently. Taylor, the Browns top corner after Joe Haden was released, was abused by Antonio Brown last week, allowing completions on all eight passes his way. It would behoove the Ravens to involve Wallace early and often.
RT Austin Howard vs DE Emmanuel Ogbah
The Ravens new right tackle has been concerningly slow footed throughout his time in Baltimore. Carlos Dunlap beat him around the edge to deliver a crushing hit to Joe Flacco in Week 1. Ogbah is more of a power than speed rusher, but has been productive with 5.5 sacks as a rookie last season and a pass defended last Sunday. Howard must improve his pass protection in order to give Flacco time in the pocket and minimize hits to his sore back.
OLB Terrell Suggs vs LT Joe Thomas
This marquee one-on-one matchups features two probable Hall of Famers. Suggs was downright dominant in Week 1; with two sacks, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and a pass deflection that resulted in an interception. As reliable as Joe Thomas has been, Suggs has done well against the Browns with 17 career sacks including one in their meeting last November. Cleveland allowed seven sacks last week, but most were the result of DeShone Kizer holding the ball too long, Thomas blocked well overall. If Suggs can beat Thomas consistently, it will be a long day for the rookie quarterback.
CB Brandon Carr vs WR Corey Coleman
Coleman is fast becoming Kizer’s go-to target, he caught five of six targets for 53-yards and a score last Sunday. Carr showed tremendous press coverage against Cincinnati, but was beat deep once on a possible miscommunication that Andy Dalton luckily missed. Coleman has the speed and agility to challenge Carr, but as long as the cornerbacks limit vertical connections, the home team defense should be able to rattle Kizer.
DB Lardarius Webb vs RB Duke Johnson
Duke played over 50 snaps last week, all as a receiver. He was unable to do much damage against the Steelers with just two catches for 20 yards. But he did get behind Pittsburgh’s defense twice and has some wiggle after the catch. Webb will draw primary coverage responsibilities in the slot on most plays. He must be sure to take proper tackling angles and at least slow down Johnson after the catch while help arrives.