It’s Baltimore, that’s why I’m watching. On Sunday, the Browns host the Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium at 1:00 p.m. EST. Baltimore is ranked twelfth in total offense averaging 348 total yards, 190 yards passing, 158 yards rushing and 23.7 points a game. Cleveland is ranked tenth in total offense averaging 366 total yards, 206 yards passing, 161 yards rushing and 24.3 points a game. On defense, Baltimore is ranked eleventh in total defense allowing 292 total yards, 200 yards passing, 92 yards rushing and 18.3 points a game. Cleveland is ranked first in total defense allowing 168 yards, 112 yards passing, 52 yards rushing and 10.7 points a game. What am I watching?

Browns Offense Vs. Ravens Defense. During the week three game against the Titans, the Browns offense started to click, but the running game is still slow to materialize. Losing running back Nick Chubb for the season will do that. Baltimore is the eighth-best run defense in the NFL, so the Browns will need to be creative in the run game. I expect them to use all three running backs. The Ravens defense plays man coverage 40% of the time (fifth in the league) and cover three blitz 9.5% of the time (third in the league). They have to blitz to generate pressure because their best pass rushers are injured. Secondary blitzes will create open areas in the defense. Quarterback Deshaun Watson will have to watch for these open areas. The Ravens feature two of the best linebackers in the league, Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen so the Browns will need to continue to attack the perimeters of the Ravens defense. Cleveland’s offensive line will have to improve their run blocking and give Watson a clean pocket in the passing game. No turnovers.

Browns Defense Vs. Ravens Offense. The Ravens offense has a 51% first-down conversion rate and the Browns defense is forcing opposing offenses to go three-and-out 61.5% of the time. Baltimore’s offense is still not clicking on all cylinders. Most of their passing game is underneath passes with the hope of long runs after the catch. Baltimore has thrown passes ten-plus yards seven percent of the time and on twenty-plus yards about three percent of the time. Their offensive line is weak and with left tackle Ronnie Stanley not playing, they’re even weaker. What Baltimore does have going for them is quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Browns will need to force the Ravens into third and long situations and contain Jackson with a safety (Grant Delpit) or a linebacker (Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah). Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz when asked how to defend Jackson said the defense will take it to him. In eight games against the Browns, Jackson has been sacked eighteen times.¬† Cleveland’s secondary will have to keep everything in front of them. Win the turnover battle.

This would be the perfect game for the Browns to feature their tight ends. David Njoku has eleven targets in three games and he’s fifth in the league in yards after the catch with 7.8 yards a reception. After three games, the Browns defense is still fresh, while the Ravens defense is a little beat up. Last week against the Titans, the Browns defense had 45 snaps. The Ravens defense against the Colts had 84 snaps. I expect Deshaun Watson to play.

 

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