By Eric Szczepinski

The Cleveland Browns are finally on Monday Night Football, and it seems no one in Cleveland is excited. A lot of news swirled the Browns over the bye week and even when they weren’t playing it seemed as if they lost the bye week. The Browns benched controversial second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel for partying over the bye week instead of showing responsibility as the newly-named starter. The job goes back to veteran Josh McCown who has served as the Browns starter all season.

The Browns and Ravens both enter the divisional prime time game in losing seasons. The feeling in Cleveland is with a 2-8 record and the first round pick quarterback benched, there is no excitement or buzz about the game. However, the Browns are favored in the game by most national outlets and are expected to win their home prime time game.

Josh McCown will be under center for the Browns, but that is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of winning Monday night. In the Browns’ 33-30 overtime win in October over the Ravens, Josh McCown had a record-breaking performance, throwing for 457 yards. McCown had a career game, shredding the Ravens secondary.

Despite media opinion, McCown has played solid all season throwing 11 touchdowns to only four interceptions. McCown is not the main reason the Browns only have two wins. McCown will manage the offense and execute the game plan installed by offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. The veteran presence of McCown will keep the offense moving Monday against an injury-riddled Ravens team.

The struggling  Browns defense should be able to find success Monday against a deflated Ravens offense. The Ravens have been injury depleted on the offensive side of the ball. Earlier in the season, the team lost starting receiver Steve Smith for the entire year. Last week, the Ravens lost super bowl winning quarterback Joe Flacco for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Starting running back Justin Forsett was also lost for the season.

Veteran Matt Schaub will start in place of Flacco. Schaub has not started in a game since 2013 when he was a member of the Houston Texans. Schaub has had a solid NFL career and should be able to manage the game for the Ravens. However, Schaub should have some rust for not starting in over a year and the Browns need to make Schuab as uncomfortable as possible. The Browns defense needs to pressure Schaub early in the game and force him into bad decisions. The Browns defense needs to set the tempo for the game by getting to Schaub and not letting him find his veteran grove.

In the battle of two AFC north teams, the Browns should come out with the primetime victory. The Ravens have been gutted by injuries and don’t have the firepower on offense to find constant consistency. Josh McCown should be able to have success against the Ravens secondary and produce points for the Browns offense. Although the Browns have struggled and have been a disappointment this season, the Browns will pull off a home victory against Baltimore riding behind the veteran McCown.

Score Prediction: Browns 24 Ravens 16


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