(WJZ)- The Baltimore Ravens are in the midst of a 10-game winning streak and have just one more accomplishment to check off their regular season checklist. Never before in franchise history has the team been the number-one-overall seed in the playoffs. This Sunday, they have the opportunity to earn the top seed with a nice bonus of getting revenge on the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns won the first meeting between these two teams back in Week 4, 40-25. Since then, the Ravens haven’t lost a game, but there has been one other significant change in the team’s play, as Harstein points out.
“More importantly, since that game, the Ravens are the number-one defense in all of football. We talk about Lamar Jackson, and he had extra rest for this game. That is something the Browns are going to have to deal with. No Myles Garrett,” said Hartstein. “But, no Brandon Williams that first time, no Marcus Peters, no Jimmy Smith, none of the run stoppers they have now. It’s a completely different defense.”
That defense will be dealing with a Browns offense that, while talented, has experienced a lot of ups-and-downs this season. In the first meeting, the Browns took care of the football, winning the turnover battle, 3-1. But, the Ravens defense has been very strong at forcing turnovers over the 10-game winning streak, totaling 18 in that stretch. Peters has had a big impact on the passing defense, as the team has allowed just two opponents (the Patriots and Jets) to surpass 200 yards passing since their bye week.
Everything heading into the contest seems to be pointing in the Ravens’ direction but, there is one trend that leans Cleveland’s way.
“You look at the Browns, and even though they were horrific against Arizona last week, they are 3-0-1 against the number their last four home games,” said Hartstein. “Divisional game, it makes sense that they will show up here with the big motivated effort.”
The Browns are also just the second team this season to get a second crack at Greg Roman’s offense. While the Bengals weren’t able to figure much out against Jackson and company in either meeting, the Browns do have some talent on defense that could. Still, Hartstein just doesn’t see the Ravens faltering, particularly with what is on the line.
“It’s just hard to make a case for the Browns against a juggernaut like the Ravens with everything they have going,” said Hartstein. “And the defense, like I said, the best in football since Week 4.”
As of this writing, the oddsmakers have the Ravens listed as 10-point favorites. Kick off is slated for 1:00 p.m. EST on CBS.