Preview: Ravens In a Must Win as They Visit the Browns
The Ravens come into their week 14 matchup in desperate need to right the ship, and remain in control of first place in the AFC north. After falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, the Ravens are in a must win situation as they square off against the Browns for the second time in three weeks. The Browns, who are coming off a bye will be just as desperate as they look to keep pace in the division as they sit two games behind the Ravens.
The Ravens beat the Browns in Baltimore by a final of 16-10 in week 12. Despite Lamar Jackson’s four interceptions the Ravens defense held their own against an injured Baker Mayfield. The Browns were held to just 40 yards rushing and just 4 of 13 on third downs. After a season ending injury to cornerback Marlon Humphrey the Ravens will have a next man up mentality, as has been the saying all season, as they look to replicate their week 12 performance this Sunday.
Before the Ravens week 10 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, quarterback Lamar Jackson was firmly placing his name into the MVP conversation. After throwing one interception and rushing for just 39 yards in an upset loss to the Dolphins, many expected the Ravens quarterback to bounce back. Fast forward to week 14 and many around Baltimore are still waiting for Jackson to return to his MVP caliber form.
While all the blame cannot be placed on the 2019 MVP, Jackson has seemed to struggle in recent weeks deciphering opposing defenses. Teams have had success blitzing Jackson doing so at an above average rate. This has lead to Jackson throwing six interceptions in three weeks, including four against the Browns. Jackson is being sacked at an alarming rate, having been sacked 37 times this season. Jackson must adjust to what defenses are doing to him and will look to do so against a Browns team that held him to 165 yards passing and one touchdown in their previous meeting.
Browns Rushing Attack
The two-headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have helped lead the Browns to the third best rushing attack in the NFL. Chubb has rushed for 865 yards good for sixth best in the NFL even though he has only played in nine games this season. The Browns offense has struggled of late as quarterback Baker Mayfield has been hurt as he has dealt with a shoulder injury.
The Ravens made a concerted effort to take away the run in the previous matchup forcing the Browns to abandon the run leading to the Browns to its lowest rushing total of the season. While the Ravens defensive front stifled the Browns rushing attack two weeks ago, they will have to step up once again as the secondary will be in flux given all the injuries.
The Browns and Ravens are two of the most injured teams around the NFL, and these injuries will play a factor in the outcome of Sunday’s contest. The Browns will be without both of their tight ends David Njoku and Harrison Bryant, as well as starting cornerback Greg Newsome II who suffered a concussion in practice on Friday. As for the Ravens who have dealt with injuries to key positions all year will be without cornerback Marlon Humphrey as well as right tackle Patrick Mekari who injured his hand last week against the Steelers.
The key for the Ravens will be how the Ravens secondary handles the Browns receivers. Cornerbacks Chris Westry and Anthony Averett will be tasked with slowing down Browns receiver Jarvis Landry who had six catches for 111 yards in their week 12 meeting. The Ravens front seven will also be called upon to slow down a Browns rushing offense that has been one of the best in the NFL. The Ravens held Browns running backs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb to a combined 36 yards rushing. All the injuries the Ravens have suffered this season will begin to catch up with them as the Browns will be able to do just enough as they beat the Ravens in another close AFC north matchup 20-17.
Line: Cleveland -2.5
All-Time Record: Baltimore leads series 34-11
Last Meeting: 11/28/21 Baltimore 16-10