The 2-1 Ravens travel to Cleveland this week to take on the 1-2 Browns. The Browns could easily be 2-1 themselves, were it not for some late-game trickery by coach Lane Kiffin and the Oakland Raiders (read about it here: http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/recap?game_id=29237&displayPage=tab_recap&season=2007&week=REG3). The Ravens, on the other hand, head to Paul Brown stadium on a modest (if not wholly impressive) two game winning streak. The city of Cleveland still hates the Ravens as much as they did the day the franchise left, and the venomous wills of the masses there seem to manifest more often than not in the on-the-field performance of the purple and black. The Ravens needed a ridiculous late Charlie Frye interception along with a last second 52 yard Matt Stover field goal to escape the Forest City with a win last year, over a very inferior Browns team. In 2004 and 2005 the Browns beat the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium 20-3 and 20-16, respectively. The Browns are always hyped to play the Ravens, who don’t share the same sense of rivalry with their old namesakes. This week two B-More castoffs, Jamal Lewis and Derek Anderson, will certainly be looking to serve up some sweet revenge.
Despite all of these factors working against the Ravens, the Nest doesn’t see them adding up to much in the end. The Raven teams that traveled to Drew Carey’s home in 2004 and 2005 were not very good, being led by an inexperienced Kyle Boller at QB. Last year, it was just Steve McNair’s 2nd start as a Raven. So let’s put the history books down this time, and instead pick up the stat books.
Although the Browns are 6th in the NFL in scoring, at 27.3 ppg, this is largely due to the 51 points they dropped on Cincy in week 2, as they managed only 31 points combined in their other two games. The B-More D will respond to the week-long national criticisms of them as being washed-up and out of shape by putting forth a suffocating effort. Something nobody has mentioned is that the purple and black are now #1 in the NFL in rush defense, allowing only 61.7 ypg. Although this may be partly attributed to the large leads the Ravens have built in their past 2 games, forcing teams to pass, it is an important point nonetheless. They know exactly what they are getting with Jamal Lewis, and will have no trouble bottling him up at the line.
The Ravens offense has shown the ability to score points this season, averaging 22 per game, good for 14th in the league. Willis McGahee and Musa Smith will find holes all day, thanks to the combination of a quickly improving offensive line paired with a Browns defense that is next-to-last in the league in rushing defense, allowing 176 ypg. Expect 4 quarters of dominance (as opposed to the 3 we’ve seen the past 2 games), and a game that will have us Raven fans resting a bit easier, at least for a week.
Ravens 27 Browns 10