5 Baltimore Ravens to Watch vs Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Ravens Look to Rebound vs Cleveland Browns
The Baltimore Ravens are looking to shake off whatever happened in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos as they are set to raise their Super Bowl XLVII banner at M&T Bank Stadium vs. the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.
Many are thinking this game is going to be closer than expected, but keep in mind several things heading into this game.
Yes, the Ravens are 19-6 when following a loss under head coach John Harbaugh's guidance and they are even undefeated against the Browns in that same time frame — 10-0 against Cleveland. However, the Browns have played the Ravens tough and the two matchups last season were decided by a combined 17 points, which may not seem that close, but both teams were in a dogfight until the clock hit triple zeros in the fourth quarter.
For the Browns, not having No. 1 wide receiver Josh Gordon, as he will miss his second game due to suspension, hurts this offense that is largely reduced to tight end Jordan Cameron as their top option followed by a bunch of guys like Greg Little who make little to no impact.
The key for the Browns should always be to establish running back Trent Richardson on the ground, but it isn't always that easy and the Ravens had success stopping the former Alabama Crimson Tide runner in Baltimore last season — just 47 rushing yards gained. Opposing defense know that Richardson is the main cog of this Browns offense and the more offensive coordinator Norv Turner has to put the ball in quarterback Brandon Weeden's hands, he realizes he'll be in for a long day offensively.
That being said, the Ravens still don't have a cupcake in front of them and need to respond big this week if they want to begin building that confidence of a playoff contender in the AFC.
Ravens tickets are still available for this weekend’s home opener. Make sure to grab some and see the defending champs try to get their first victory of the season.
5. Michael Huff
Michael Huff struggled mightily for the Ravens in Week 1 and it was somewhat surprising given that he had received such high praises from the coaching staff throughout training camp. The former Oakland Raiders safety seems to be struggling more with his communication at the back end of the defense and learning defensive coordinator Dean Pees' schemes more than anything. Could he be on thin ice given that the Ravens drafted safety Matt Elam in the first round of the 2013 Draft? I wrote this in regards to that issue, but I think if Huff has to prove against lowly opponents like the Browns, then he isn't a first-round bust and an eight-year veteran on his way out.
4. Michael Oher
Michael Oher is listed as probable for this Sunday's game, but you have to wonder how that ankle is going to hold up this weekend. Given that Oher has to fast paced rushers like Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo on the outside, I know I will be watching with a keen eye to see just how quickly Michael moves off the snap. Kruger is an intriguing matchup for the Browns since he probably knows this offensive line and quarterback Joe Flacco better than anyone on the defense. If Oher can stifle Kruger's speed-power moves and overall athleticism, the Browns may be minimized defensively.
3. Marlon Brown
Welcome to the NFL rookie ... here's your first chance to start in the NFL. With Jacoby Jones' MCL injury sidelining him for roughly over a month, the Ravens are looking to guys like Marlon Brown to fill in at the No. 2 wide receiver spot. Browns makes the most sense given his 6-foot-5 frame and the success he had in Denver in Week 1. Yes, Brown went undrafted and it still remains to be seen just how high his ceiling is as an NFL player, but if Torrey Smith is being blanketed by cornerback Joe Haden of the Browns, look for Marlon to gain some separation from the rest of the defense.
2. Dallas Clark
I was one of the guys who initially saw the drops Dallas Clark was making and immediately criticized his efforts for the Ravens. However, after cooling off for several days, I came to my senses and realized that he is the best tight end on the roster in terms of catching passes. Sad to say that a 34-year-old in the December of his career is the guy, but it happened that way. Clark led the Ravens in targets with 12 in Week 1 and caught seven passes for 87 yards. This may be the breakout week for Clark as you have to figure that rust from an offseason of inactivity has to be wearing off now that he's played football for roughly a month.
1. Daryl Smith
Linebacker Daryl Smith did not make the impact I was expecting to see from him in Week 1 and was fairly quiet even on the stat sheet. He was beat on a touchdown pass to Denver tight end Julius Thomas, but everyone on the Ravens defense was getting defeated through the air. The Browns are a team where you want to hit them hard and hit them early because if you let them hang around, they can sneak up and snag a win. Smith needs to reinforce his position as a leader for this defense and a few parting shots for Trent Richardson will definitely get his morale and the team's going.