Coming off of a surprisingly strong week 1 performance and a pseudo-bye week, the Ravens return to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Despite it being early in the season, I think this is a big game for the Ravens.
Baltimore has a chance to jump out to both a 2-0 overall record and a 2-0 record in the division, which would already surpass the number of division wins they collected in 2007. They also have the opportunity to put their division rivals in a 0-3 hole.
But the Browns come into town like a wounded, rabid animal.
After amassing 10 wins last season and not making the playoffs, the mix of a sputtering offense that is littered with talent and an early 0-2 start scares me a bit. The Browns will be hungry for their first win.
At the same time, the Browns have an injury-ridden defense and an offense that is turning the ball over and struggling on the ground. It also never helps when you’re #1 receiver is dipping his hands in a cement mixer before every game; Braylon Edwards has dropped five passes in two games.
Don’t look for the Browns to get back on track this week.
The Ravens proved last week, albeit against a terrible Cincinnati team, that they can put pressure on the quarterback and stop the run. Robaire Smith, arguably the Browns’ best pass rusher, is out with a torn Achilles tendon, which will make Jared Gatither’s life a little easier. Look for the Ravens offensive line to continue to protect Flacco well in the face of an inept pass rush. With Flacco comfortably upright most of the game, Cam Cameron will open up the playbook a little more this week and give Flacco more opportunities to throw the ball downfield, something he didn’t do all that often in week 1.
Ravens – 23 Browns – 10
Pivotal Match-up: Grubbs, Brown, and Yanda will have a chance to prove their worth against former Pro-Bowl NT Shaun Rogers. If Rogers is able to get in the backfield consistently, it could spell big trouble for the Ravens. But I think that our boys will be up to the task.
The crowd will be foaming at the mouth for some football after being forced to abstain for a week and I think the 12th man will be a huge factor…I’ll certainly be doing my part.
What are your predictions?