Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Saturday

December 23, 2011 | Luke Jones

4. The Baltimore pass rush gets back on track by collecting at least four sacks. Part of the reason defensive players have so much affection for defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is his competitive nature and swagger to which they can relate. And after a 34-14 loss in which they were gashed in the passing game and failed to register a sack, Pagano will undoubtedly dial up some creative calls for Seneca Wallace and an underwhelming offense that’s 30th in points per game (13.9) this season. The Ravens collected three sacks against the Browns in Cleveland, two of them from rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee, and linebacker Terrell Suggs is itching to break the franchise’s single-season record of 15 sacks that was set by Peter Boulware in 2001. The 29-year-old linebacker is two away from tying the mark, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get there after he was humbled by the San Diego offensive line last Sunday night. If Suggs can’t find space against left tackle Joe Thomas, look for Pagano to flip him to the opposite side as he did last week when his Pro Bowl rush linebacker couldn’t get anything going against Chargers tackle Jared Gaither. This Ravens defense plays at a different level in the friendly confines of its home stadium, and Cleveland will learn that the hard way on Saturday.

5. It will be a festive Christmas in the Charm City as the Ravens handle the Browns, 31-16. Yes, it’s a division game and Cleveland will be thinking revenge after being thoroughly embarrassed three weeks ago when the Ravens ran a franchise-record times at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but the Browns simply aren’t good enough on either side of the ball to realistically expect an upset on Saturday. With Boldin out of action, Baltimore will rely a bit more on its running game than I expected them to earlier in the week, but a heavy dose of Rice and Williams will see little resistance against a Browns team that hasn’t beaten the Ravens in over four years. Baltimore will make it eight wins in a row over Cleveland and move closer to the AFC North title and a first-round bye in a rather uneventful — but fun — day at M&T Bank Stadium for Ravens fans.