Ravens vs. Browns Preview

Sports and Bets — December 28, 2014 at 3:11 am by

The Ravens (9-6) will close out the regular season with a must-win matchup against the Browns (7-8). For the Ravens to make the playoffs, they’ll need to beat the Browns and have the Chargers lose or tie against the Chiefs. It’s not the most likely scenario with Chase Daniel starting at quarterback for the Chiefs, but hey, crazier things have happened. Speaking of crazy things, the last time that the Browns beat the Ravens in Baltimore was after this goofy shit back in 2007.

2014 Stats (per game)
Points – Baltimore: 25.9, Cleveland: 19.3
Points Allowed – Baltimore: 19.5, Cleveland: 21.1
Passing Yards – Baltimore: 235.3, Cleveland: 221.0
Rushing Yards – Baltimore: 126.0, Cleveland: 107.9
Passing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 255.3, Cleveland: 220.1
Rushing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 86.9, Cleveland: 142.4
Turnover Differential – Baltimore: 0, Cleveland: 0.53

Ravens Injury Report
DL Chris Canty – Questionable (Ankle/Thigh)
T Eugene Monroe – Doubtful (Ankle)
OLB Terrell Suggs – Questionable (Back/Thigh)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint – Questionable (Ribs)

Browns Injury Report
DE Desmond Bryant – Questionable (Thumb)
TE Gary Barnidge – Questionable (Rib)
CB K’Waun Williams – Questionable (Hamstring)
DT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen – Out (Fibula)
TE Ryan Taylor – Questionable (Elbow)
DT Ahtyba Rubin – Out (Ankle)
CB Joe Haden – Questionable (Shoulder)
LB Jabaal Sheard – Questionable (Foot)
QB Brian Hoyer – Doubtful (Right Shoulder)
QB Johnny Manziel – Out (Hamstring)
WR Andrew Hawkins – Questionable (Thumb)
T Ryan Seymour – Out (Hamstring)

Ravens’ Offense vs. Browns’ Defense
The Ravens could really use a fast start with Connor Shaw doing the quarterbacking for the Browns. If the Ravens can jump out to an early lead, it will cause Cleveland to take a more aggressive approach in their play calling. This will hopefully lead to Shaw making some costly mistakes. Unfortunately for the Ravens, coming out strong has been extremely difficult for them as of late. Over their last three games, they’ve gained 54 yards with one first down in the first quarter. Both of these totals are far and away the worst in the NFL over that span (Hensley). The only points that the Ravens have scored over this stretch came on a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown against Jacksonville.

Getting their running game back on track would be a huge help in jump starting their first quarter offense. Cleveland is dead last against the run, and has been especially dreadful in run defense over the last two weeks, giving up a total of 453 rushing yards to the Bengals and Panthers. Cleveland’s run defense is sievelike, but will the Ravens be able to take advantage of it given their recent struggles and injuries to their offensive line? Over the last two weeks, the Ravens ran the ball 42 times for only 126 yards, which is a putrid 3.0 yards per carry. The Ravens will also be using a makeshift offensive line with RT Rick Wagner on IR and LT Eugene Monroe highly unlikely to play. Something’s gotta give in this battle in the trenches, and I’m putting my money on the hometown squad.

Ravens’ Defense vs. Browns’ Offense
Shaw is an undrafted rookie out of South Carolina, and will be making his first career start. Since 2008, the Ravens have held opposing passers to a 70.5 quarterback rating at M&T Bank Stadium, which is tops in the NFL (Downing). Despite the Ravens’ shortcomings in pass defense this season, I still think that the 23-year-old will have his work cut out for him because of Baltimore’s relentless pass rush. Pro Bowler Elvis Dumervil’s 17 sacks are good for 3rd in the NFL, and Pro Bowl snub Terrell Suggs’ 11 sacks are the 10th most in the league. The Browns will definitely want to take some of the pressure off Shaw by establishing a running game with Isaiah Crowell and Baltimore’s own Terrance West, but I don’t think they’ll be able to do much on the ground against the Ravens’ vaunted front seven. The Ravens held the Browns to 85 rushing yards back in Week 3, and have managed to limit the opposition to just 89.3 rushing yards per game in their first three contests without Haloti Ngata.

ngata

Rapid Fire Facts
• Josh Gordon won’t play today after being suspended for violating team rules.
• When these teams met back in Week 3, the Ravens ran for 160 yards and a TD en route to a 23-21 victory.
• Cleveland has lost four straight.
• Both the Ravens (Dumervil, Marshal Yanda, and C.J. Mosley) and the Browns (Joe Haden, Joe Thomas, and Tashaun Gipson) have three Pro Bowlers.
• Mosley became the first rookie in Ravens history to make the Pro Bowl.
• In the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era, the Ravens have never played a game that didn’t have any playoff implications (Byrne).
• Flacco has been sacked 18 times this year, but only four of them have come at home (Meoli).
• Our old pal Paul Kruger leads the Browns with 10 sacks.
• Another former Raven, Jim Leonhard, plans to retire after today’s game.
• The Browns are eliminated from playoff contention, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2002. Sucks to suck, ya slapdicks.
• The Ravens need 10 points to dethrone the 2012 squad as the franchise leader for points scored in a season. (Hensley).
• Since 2008, the Ravens are 44-11 at home, which is the second-best record in the league (Downing).
• Flacco is 12-1 in his career against the Browns.
• Flacco is undefeated when it comes to Christmas pictures.

Let’s go Ravens!

cover pic: Factory of Sadness

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