The one thing about the NFL‘s AFC North Division is it is tough competition for the young Cleveland Browns. To have to play three playoff caliber teams twice a year seems unfair. This Sunday will be game two between the Baltimore Ravens and Browns. This time, home field advantage belongs to Cleveland and the Dawg Pound.
In the first contest, Cleveland was without two key players in Joe Haden and Phil Taylor. When the Browns’ defense takes the field on Sunday both players will be out there. Having Haden out there will make Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco think twice about whistling passes in to the lakefront air. All the second year man Taylor brings to the defensive front is 330 lbs of brute force to stop the elusive Ray Rice.
To say the Ravens destroyed the Browns in week four on Thursday night football would be a flat out lie. In fact, Brandon Weeden‘s final nine play and 72 yard drive came up just shy as his final pass attempt to tie the game sailed out of the end zone in the remaining seconds.
The four things that stood out in the game were Phil Dawson‘s automatic leg from 50 plus yards out, smooth Ravens’ veteran Anquan Boldin with his 9 receptions for 131 yards, an ever so costly pick six, and a Greg Little dropped touchdown pass. No one on the Browns could cover Boldin. When the purple and black needed a play, Boldin answered every time. It just goes to show what a veteran receivers’ presence can do for a franchise. Why don’t the Browns have a impact veteran wide receiver again? The momentum swing play that stood out was the ill advised telegraphed throw by Weeden that turned in to a pick six by defensive back Cary Williams. Cleveland lost 23-16.
Though it’s a reach, the reality is that Browns have won two out of their last three games. They are one crucial dropped pass away from a three game winning streak. This weekend’s game is a big division game for the Browns. With an upset win, Cleveland can get back to .500 in the AFC North division. As super storm Sandy fades away, the left over elements may be a factor.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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