By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will match up against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night. Here’s the scouting report.
Cleveland Browns record: 0-3-0 (4th in the AFC North)
The Browns have struggled offensively so far this season. The team decided to start rookie QB Brandon Weeden over Colt McCoy, and so far, the experiment has been unsuccessful. A lot of that falls on the lack of talent at wide receiver.
The Browns’ leading receiver is Mohamed Massaquoi, who has yet to score a touchdown and has yet to reach 200 receiving yards this season. Massaquoi also injured his hamstring on Sunday and it is unknown whether he will even suit up for Thursday’s game. If the Browns have any chance of winning this game, they’ll have to get much better production in the passing game.
The Ravens’ defense is vulnerable in passing situations, but is still extremely dangerous. The Ravens have faced Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks for 3 straight weeks in Andy Dalton, Michael Vick, and Tom Brady. Weeden doesn’t fall in that category of talent, but if he can put pressure on the defense with effective passing, it would be a huge boost for the Browns.
Trent Richardson is averaging 3.5 yards per carry so far this season, and though that stat isn’t overly impressive, he is by far the Browns’ best weapon. The Ravens seem to always do a great job of taking away the run game. If Richardson is taken out of the game, it’ll be almost impossible for the Browns to get anything going on offense. Look for the Browns to attempt establishing the run early in this game.
The Browns’ defense currently ranks 25th in the NFL, and they’ll be going up against a potent offense when they face the Ravens. Baltimore currently boasts the third ranked passing attack in the NFL; fourth in total yardage and second in scoring. Simply put, the Ravens’ offense is dangerous and the Browns will have to pick their poison in is game–they will most likely attempt to take Ray Rice out of the game. Cam Cameron has a habit of abandoning the running game in certain situations. If the Browns can make this offense one dimensional, it takes away a lot of what Baltimore is able to do.
If the Browns are successful in making Baltimore one-dimensional, they will need to have success in rushing the passer. Flacco has proven that he can win games with his arm alone. If Flacco remains comfortable in the pocket, he will pick the Browns’ defense apart. Expect the Browns to try various blitzes in order to keep Flacco uncomfortable.
Pat Shurmur hasn’t had much success against the Ravens since his time in Cleveland, but that has more to do with the team than the coach. In fact, the Browns haven’t defeated the Ravens since 2007. The Ravens hold a (19-7-0) All-Time record against Cleveland.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.