With little room for error remaining this season in order to make the playoffs, the Ravens face the 9-3 Browns on Monday Night Football. Here are five keys for Baltimore to come out on top in a critical divisional game.
1) Stop the run
Cleveland currently ranks third in the league in rushing. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are nearing 1,000 yards for the season and have been the focal point of the offense. The Browns’ revamped offensive line is the biggest key to their dominance on the ground, so the Ravens will have to be stout in the trenches to keep Cleveland from controlling the game.
2) Pressure Baker Mayfield
Stopping the run will mean that QB Baker Mayfield will be forced to make more plays through the air, which gives Baltimore’s pass rush an opportunity to rattle him as they did in Week 1. Mayfield is prone to making mistakes and turning the ball over when he feels pressure.
3) Contain Myles Garrett
Garrett is near the top of the list for Defensive Player of the Year with the ability to wreck an offense’s plans. The Ravens have to scheme around Garrett to make sure he can’t singlehandedly stall drives. Garrett will likely face Orlando Brown Jr. for most of the game, but it would still be smart to give Brown some help.
4) Attack through the air
Baltimore was unable to get the rushing attack going in Week 1 but they did have their best passing performance of the season. QB Lamar Jackson was nearly perfect against the Browns last time, completing 20-of-25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson performed well against Dallas last week, throwing for two touchdowns, so the Ravens should look to continue that momentum this week, especially with CB Denzel Ward out.
5) Avoid turnovers and penalties
As with every week, Baltimore must avoid costly turnovers. The Ravens have shot themselves in the foot too many times on both sides of the ball this season. Getting off the field on third down without extending the drive due to penalties will be huge for the defense to control the game. Staying out of long passing situations is key to preventing Garrett from wrecking the game as well, so offensive penalties need to be kept to a minimum.