When you look at this Cleveland Browns team, you get the sense that they are a much better team than how they have played in previous games. With the exception of the New York Giants game, no contest has been a blow out. The multi injured Baltimore Ravens come to town limping on both sides of the ball. So now the second time around, what’s it going to take for the Browns to beat these pesky Ravens?
During the last match up in week four, Cleveland field general Brandon Weeden was still getting his feet wet and faced the toughest defense of his career. The rookie quarterback’s stats were not overly impressive as he threw the ball a career high 52 times for 320 yards. The only problem was Weeden threw one crucial interception and accumulated a 59.8 QB rating. For Weeden, one huge key to this coming weekend’s game is limiting mistakes. The Browns’ signal caller must not lock on receivers and learn to live for another play. It is imperative that Weeden does not throw another pick six. Though the Browns have learned to hang in there when playing from behind, they will not be able to overcome mistakes to the Ravens.
Nothing changes when it comes to stopping one of the best all purpose runners in the NFL. In the first meeting, Ray Rice was held to just 49 yards on the ground by the 26th ranked Cleveland defense. The problem is, Rice is so versatile that he caught 8 passes for 47 yards out of the backfield to help move the chains. Though the Browns kept Rice out of the end zone, he still is an intregal part of the offense. Having big man Phil Taylor back for the Browns will be beneficial.
During week four, Browns shut down corner back Joe Haden was serving his third game of his four game suspension for taking a banned substance. The Ravens took full advantage of it. Crafty 10 year veteran receiver Anquan Boldin had a field day against the Browns’ secondary. Boldin put together a fine game with 9 receptions and 131 yards. This can’t happen again in week nine. Expect Haden to have a say in stopping the go-to receiver.
The final key to this weekend’s AFC North battle is Trent Richardson. Coming off a career high 122 yards rushing last week against the number two ranked rush defense in the NFL, Richardson should strike a little fear in to the Ray Lewis-less Ravens. If TRich can get to the second level of the defense, this could be a huge week for him. Last match up against the Ravens, Richardson was contained on the ground with only 47 yards rushing. Although he did find pay dirt, TRich was more effective out of the backfield much like Rice was for the Ravens. Richardson had four receptions for 57 yards to equal 104 all purpose yards. The rookie back’s efforts must be better this weekend.
The Browns are as healthy as the have been all season going in to this Sunday. Having key personnel back on the field will be instrumental. Playing in front of a hopeful home crowd should fire them up as well. All of the pieces are in place to steal this contest from the Ravens. Cleveland now just needs to play smart and execute.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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