By Samuel Njoku

The Ravens (1-3) needed a win badly after starting the season with three straight losses. They picked up their first win from Pittsburgh when Justin Tucker nailed a game-winning field goal in overtime. Now Baltimore looks to start a new streak on the other side of the coin. To do that, they’ll need to defeat another division foe in the Cleveland Browns.

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The Cleveland Browns (1-3) are also a team that needs to string a few wins together in order to keep up with the red hot Cincinnati Bengals. After losing to the New York Jets to start the season, they triumphed over Marcus Mariotta and the Tennessee Titans. Since that win in Week 2, they’ve lost two straight to the Raiders and Chargers.

Browns on Offense

The Browns one win came when the always-popular Johnny Manziel was under center, Cleveland still remains winless with Josh McCown at the helm. In typical Browns fashion, McCown will still get the start against Baltimore. Manziel presents a skill set similar to the one on display against Pittsburgh, which means there’s a chance that they may put him in for a play or two given the success Vick had against them. Until that happens, it’s still the Josh McCown show, and that may not be a bad thing. He gave San Diego a run for their money last Sunday as he went 32-of-41 for 356 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin has been a dynamic weapon for the Browns for the first quarter of the season and with the way the secondary has played, there’s a chance that the young playmaker may be fully capable of making even Josh McCown look good on Sunday. If the Ravens contain him half as well as they did Antonio Brown last Thursday, they should be fine.

Baltimore may also want to keep an eye on the running game as Duke Johnson is one of the more explosive runners in the NFL. He and Isaiah Crowell make for a formidable 1-2 punch in the running game. The Ravens will want to contain that duo in order to severely hamper what the Browns are able to accomplish on offense.

Browns on Defense

For the last few seasons, the Browns have had one of the better defenses in the NFL. There may be some doubt after the week they had against San Diego where they gave up 30 points and 438 yards of offense, but this doesn’t mean that you should expect the Ravens to light up the scoreboard on Sunday. This game may come down to who Joe Flacco has to give the football to. With Steve Smith Sr. already ruled out for the game and Michael Campanaro lost for the season, Flacco doesn’t have a reliable receiver left on the football field. That can spell trouble for a team that possess a decent pass rusher in Paul Kruger. Holding the ball even a second late can be the difference between a completion and a sack in the NFL, so the Ravens offensive line will need to give their quarterback more time in the pocket as he waits for his receivers to gain separation from the defensive backs.

One thing that should give Baltimore hope is the way Chargers RB Danny Woodhead had success against the Browns. Justin Forsett is a superior back and can make people miss in open space. It should surprise no one if Baltimore designed a few plays to get Forsett heavily involved given the lack of playmakers on the outside.

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Browns Players to Watch

Wide receivers have had their way for the most part against the Ravens. Travis Benjamin could be added to the list if Baltimore isn’t careful. For a team with a limited number of playmakers, it’s probably a safe bet that the Browns will look to get him involved early and often. Baltimore has to be sure that Benjamin isn’t allowed to take over the game on Sunday.

Paul Kruger had a special season for Baltimore when they went on to win a Super Bowl. He hasn’t had a chance to show the city of Baltimore how much of an impact he can be in a different jersey. You better believe he’s going to try his best to do just that when he returns to his former home on Sunday. With the recent lack of success the offensive line has had against pass rushers this season, he can be in for a big day if Baltimore is unable to contain him.

Outlook for Sunday’s Game

The Browns are a division opponent and should not be taken lightly. But on paper, they just don’t appear to have the talent to match up to a team such as Baltimore. Even though the Ravens appear to be struggling at the moment, it would take a complete game by Cleveland to complete the upset.

Ravens 27-10

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 since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.

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