We’re starting to get to the point in the season where I’m “writing out the string” in these opening paragraphs. I have no more wit (if I ever had any to begin with, that is). No more sauce. I look at this game as the Browns being a lamb led to slaughter. I have memories of my friend with whom I share my tickets saying, “This sucks. Ready to go?” in the early third quarter of last year’s finale against the Steelers. I’m expecting that kind of taste in my mouth this Sunday, too.
It’s tricky. Baltimore is averaging only two more yards rushing per game than the Browns are. The Ravens are 13th in the league in passing yards per game. So, where does my fear above come from? Well, the rub is that Baltimore is third in the league defending the run, whereas the Browns are 29th. Gads. Both teams are top-five against the pass in terms of yards. Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Editor’s note: Similar to the past weeks, we have started things off with sharing some takes with our audience over at Still WFNY – please feel free to head over to Cleveland.com to partake.
Daniel Wolf (National Football Authority): …they can do three things. 1. They have to be able to shut down speedy Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, otherwise he will burn the secondary all day with his speed. 2. They have to stop the Ravens’ pass rush (easier said than done, I know). If the Browns O-Line can protect Colt McCoy, then the Browns will have a chance to win as long as the receivers can catch the football. 3. Finally, McCoy MUST know where Ravens safety Ed Reed is at all times. Last time McCoy faced Reed, the Pro Bowl safety got the best of McCoy with two interceptions in 2010.
Craig: …Joe Flacco and Ray Rice do a disappearing act like they have on occasion this season. The Browns will have to convert turnovers and drive just enough to get into field goal range. They’ll have to find a way to win really ugly like maybe 19-13 with four field goals and a touchdown while only giving up one touchdown and a couple field goals. It isn’t all that likely because Ray Rice averages 4.99 yards per carry against the Browns in six career games. Oh and all six of those were wins, by the way. You can write the glass half empty post about the Browns every week, but it seems especially important to temper expectations now for this stretch of the season.
Andrew: …Peyton Hillis has a breakout game. Part of the reason why we were so excited about Hillis last season is that he seemed like the perfect type of running back for the AFC North. Tough, strong, physical, able to at least wear down the tough defenses in the AFC North a little. In short, Hillis has the brute strength to match the strength of the Ravens defense. If you’re looking for a template, just look at what Marshawn Lynch did against the Ravens. Lynch, a physical RB in his own right, ran for 109 yards on 32 carries and was also the Seahawks’ leading receiver with 58 yards on 5 catches. This is the kind of impact Hillis needs to have on this game. We know he’s capable of catching the ball as well as running downhill, now he just needs to prove it. As for defense, the Ravens have shown a strange ability to occasionally forget about Ray Rice and turn into a passing team. If the Browns can have some early success scoring on the Baltimore defense, it will put pressure on their offense and ideally turn them into a passing team. This plays more into the Browns’ strength. Of course, none of the will be easy. But in my opinion, for the Browns to win this game, that’s more or less what needs to happen.
Rick: …they can put everything together for a complete game. Obviously, a break in the game would help. A big special teams play or turnover will probably need to happen. Peyton Hillis will need to carry the ball effectively, and often. McCoy can’t make any mistakes with the ball. Defensively, the Browns will have to be better against the run. Force Flacco to beat you. I’m not saying he can’t, but a balanced attack is just too difficult to stop.
Kirk: ….The Browns will win with lots of good, clean snaps from Yount back to Maynard. Just kidding, it’s a tall order to be certain. The Browns need a playmaker to emerge against a still stout Ravens D. Greg Little has been making plays but he needs to rid himself of the drops. We probably need a 2010 Hillis performance to have any chance in my opinion. On the flip side, make Flacco air it out to beat you and lock Haden onto Torrey Smith. Let’s hope Maiava doesn’t get exposed in the passing game, and the same goes for the safeties.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?