With two of the NFL’s most explosive young playmakers, these are not your older brother’s Cleveland Browns. In order to defeat the new-look Browns, the Baltimore Ravens will have to find a way to do what other NFL defenses have struggled to do: Stop Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon.
Cleveland truly had something going with Brian Hoyer but had to take a step back when they put their trust in the hands of former first-round pick Brandon Weeden. With proven NFL starter Jason Campbell at the helm, the Browns have a chance to return to the play that led them to a rare three-game winning streak.
More surprising than their near-upset of the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs was the success of Campbell and the offense. Campbell picked apart the league’s best defense to the tune of 293 yards and two touchdowns, as the offensive line kept him upright long enough to find Cameron and Gordon down the field.
The Ravens have been in the middle of the road defensively this season and are a far cry from Kansas City’s dominant unit. The Ravens no longer boast the defensive playmakers of their legendary 2000 team, or even last year’s Super Bowl unit, and must concentrate all their efforts on slowing Gordon and Cameron.
Willis McGahee has returned from the scrap heap, but he hasn’t been much of a factor with just 2.9 yards per carry and a touchdown, leaving the Browns’ second and third-year playmakers to carry the load offensively.
The responsibilities of slowing the duo will fall primarily on Lardarius Webb and Daryl Smith. Webb has long been the Ravens’ top cornerback while Smith has been the team’s best linebacker in coverage and has enjoyed a career renaissance in Baltimore. Smith will not be the only defender to take a crack at slowing Cameron, but he will likely draw the lion’s share of the responsibility.
The jobs of Smith and Webb will be far from easy, but if they can slow the Browns’ new dynamic duo it should ensure a victory for the Ravens.