The Baltimore Ravens will play their second division game on the road against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. Here are a few bold predictions for this battle for first place in the AFC North standings from the Baltimore Beatdown staff.
For as much praise as the vaunted Browns defense has been getting nationally through the first three weeks of the regular season, they have yet to face a competent offense let alone an elite quarterback of Lamar Jackson’s pedigree. Even with both Gus Edwards and Justice Hill slated to be available for this pivotal matchup, the Ravens run game will be highlighted and led by their electrifying dual-threat signal caller. Jackson will repeatedly gash Cleveland’s defense with his legs on both scrambles and designed runs to the tune of a second straight 100-plus rushing yard performance and with one touchdown on the ground and three more through the air including one to Zay Flowers for the first-round rookie wide receiver's first of his career in the regular season.
On the other side of the ball, whoever ends up starting under center for Cleveland will be under siege all game. The pressure off the edge will come from former Brown Jadeveon Clowney and the recently signed Kyle Van Noy and the Ravens will also bring plenty of heat from depth as inside linebacker Roquan Smith and dynamic defensive back Kyle Hamilton will both notch 1.5 sacks. In his astonishingly quick return to the lineup from a pectoral injury, veteran safety Marcus Williams will make up for lost time by notching a pair of interceptions including the first defensive touchdown for the Ravens since Week 17 of the 2021 season. — Josh Reed
The Ravens offense begins to show the weakness of the top-ranked Browns defense. Against talented corners and edges and with a weakened wide receiver room, the Ravens cause hesitation by leaning heavily on a Jackson-lead run game, forcing Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith to hesitate. Forcing the Browns linebackers, the Ravens attack the middle of the field and the safeties with heavy tight end sets with Andrews, Likely, and Kolar all having good days through the air.
With the Browns elevating a practice squad quarterback, it sounds like Watson won’t play which means Dorian Thompson-Robinson will get the start. He will give the Ravens fits as a dual threat with limited film and will cause some breakdowns in the first half, allowing the game to stay close. But Mike Macdonald adjusts after halftime and veterans Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy step up to limit the Browns. Between those two and the Ravens defensive line, they combine for four sacks and Marcus Williams gets an interception to seal the game in his surprising return after having thought to be out for the season only three weeks ago. — Zach Canter
With the presumable return of Marcus Williams on Sunday, the Ravens will move Kyle Hamilton back into a nickel role like the one we saw last week. First of all, Geno Stone’s play on the backend has been exceptional and it’s going to be difficult to take a player that’s performed the way he has off the field. Second, how do you take Kyle Hamilton out of the slot? He might be a great deep safety in this league but his performance last Sunday out of the slot was truly incredible.
Similar to his game against the Colts, Hamilton will be a wrecking ball around the line of scrimmage against Cleveland, once again recording multiple sacks and tackles for a loss. This will be a low-scoring affair but the safety trio of Stone, Williams, and Hamilton will force either Deshawn Watson or Dorian Thompson-Robinson into some ill-advised turnovers and ultimately be the difference in the game. — Stephen Bopst