Tale Of The Tape: Baltimore Ravens At Cleveland Browns
- QuarterbackJoe Flacco has the accolades that goes with winning the Super Bowl. However, there are no guarantees that the Baltimore Ravens are going to even make the playoffs this year and much of that is on Flacco. While he has a strong arm and can make all the throws, he has not shown the consistency needed now that the Ravens no longer have a dominating defense.Head coach Rob Chudzinski had seen enough of Brandon Weeden at quarterback and he made the switch to veteran backup Jason Campbell. Surprisingly, the slowish Campbell was quite effective and nearly led the Ravens to an upset victory over the Chiefs. Campbell knows how to read defenses, keep his cool and deliver the ball on time to his receivers.
- OffenseThe Ravens have been hurt badly by their inability to move the ball on the ground. In the past, Ray Rice was one of the most explosive backs in the league, but he has been held to a 2.8 yards per carry average in 2013. Torrey Smith is a solid target who can get downfield and make big plays. Tight end Dallas Clark has become one of the Ravens’ most reliable receivers.The Browns rarely get any production from their rushing attack. Willis McGahee is averaging 2.9 yards per carry and is coming off a 28-yard effort against the Chiefs. Josh Gordon is an excellent deep threat, but the Browns can’t get the most out of him because they are so limited at the quarterback position. Tight end Jordan Cameron is a solid red zone target.
- DefenseThe Ravens no longer have a dominant defense, but they can play well on occasion and they rank 16th overall. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith has taken the leadership role with this unit and has a team-high 62 tackles and 10 passes defensed. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs keys the pass rush and leads the team with 8.0 sacks.The Browns have played solid defense most of the season and they rank seventh overall. Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has been the team’s most active hitter, as he leads the Browns with 59 tackles. Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo has a team high 4.0 sacks, while strong safety T.J. Ward has seven passes defensed and two interceptions.
- Special TeamsThe Ravens get solid coverage from their punt and kickoff teams and they get a boost from Tandon Doss, who returned a punt for a touchdown earlier this year. Justin Tucker has proven to be one of the top placekickers in the league with 15 field goals made in 17 attempts.The Browns excel in their coverage units and Travis Benjamin is one of the best return specialists in the league. He has returned a punt for a touchdown and has come close to doing the same thing on kickoff returns. Placekicker Billy Cundiff is having one of his best seasons, having made 12-of-14 FG attempts.
The Browns will push the Ravens hard, but Baltimore is coming off its bye week and head coach John Harbaugh should have the Ravens prepared for a top effort. If the Ravens can force Campbell to play come-from-behind football, the Ravens should win the game. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor