By SportsDirect Inc.
Just a week into the season and the Cleveland Browns’ best-laid plans have gone awry after losing quarterback Robert Griffin III to a broken bone in his throwing shoulder. The Browns will go back to Josh McCown under center for Sunday’s home opener when they host the Baltimore Ravens and their stingy defense which allowed just seven points in its season-opening win over Buffalo.
Griffin suffered the injury late in last week’s loss to Philadelphia and was placed on injured reserve. While initial reports estimated he could return in three to four weeks, they’ve since been altered to eight weeks and his entire season is in jeopardy, leaving the gig to McCown, who is 2-17 as a starter over the past two seasons. The Ravens limited the Bills to 160 yards of offense in their 13-7 victory and were led by cornerback Shareece Wright, who tallied 11 tackles and sacked Tyrod Taylor twice. After missing the latter part of 2015 with a knee injury, Joe Flacco passed for 258 yards in his return to the lineup, including a 66-yard TD pass to newcomer Mike Wallace that proved to be the game-winner.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (1-0): Baltimore did little offensively but its suffocating defense even had former defensive coordinator and current Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan gushing. “I’m probably one of the coaches that’ll give credit to the opponent because they deserve it,” Ryan said. “They got after us.” Wide receiver Breshad Perriman made his NFL debut against the Bills and made a highlight-reel grab of 35 yards while veteran Steve Smith caught five balls in his return to the squad, but the Ravens got little from their backfield as the tandem of Justin Forsett and Terrance West combined for 73 yards on 22 carries. Baltimore’s defense limited the Bills to 65 yards on the ground and 95 net yards through the air.
ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-1): Griffin promised to be more careful with his penchant for dangerous scrambling as he tried to resurrect his once-promising career in Cleveland but he was injured on a violent hit while running out of his own end zone with his team well out of the game in the fourth quarter. McCown, 37, is back in a familiar spot, having replaced Johnny Manziel with the Browns last season in fairly efficient fashion, throwing for an average of 263.6 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight starts last year. He also torched the Ravens for a team-record 457 yards last season in a 33-30 overtime win in Week 5 while completing 36 of 51 passes.
1. RB Isaiah Crowell carried 12 times last week for 62 yards and the Browns’ only touchdown.
2. The Ravens split carries between Forsett and West last week and the duo should fare well against the Browns, who have allowed 134.9 yards rushing per game since 2014, the most in the NFL over that span.
3. Perriman is nursing a shoulder injury but is expected to play while LB Elvis Dumervil is doubtful (foot).
PREDICTION: Ravens 20, Browns 17