Browns @ Ravens

The suddenly lively Cleveland Browns (5-4) make their annual trip to M&T Bank Stadium this week to visit the just as suddenly lifeless Ravens (4-5). Ravens fans were all Browns fans for a day last week, as Cleveland was taking it to the Steelers for 30 minutes before reverting back to their ways as the Browns of old and losing in Pi**burgh at the end. This Sunday will be a different story, though, as the Brown-stains come into M&T Bank Stadium as favorites over our struggling Ravens.

Losers of 3 straight, the Ravens turn to a familiar face as they try to turn the season around, quarterback Kyle Boller. Boller is 2-1 as a starter this season (although we must point out those 2 wins came against teams with a current record of 2-16), and 16-4 in his career at M&T Bank Stadium. He has played reasonably well this season, throwing for 772 yards and 3 touchdowns in limited relief of Steve McNair, but extremely well when compared to the terrible struggles of McNair. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone saying “Error” gives the Ravens the best chance to win, and we won’t either. With Boller in, the Ravens are a different team on offense, stretching the field a bit and throwing passes longer than 5 yards. If Kyle can settle in on Sunday, get decent protection and time to throw, he will make some plays against a Clowns’ secondary that is 2nd-to-last in the league, allowing nearly 273 yards per game. On the other side, Ravens cast-off Derek Anderson looks to follow in the steps of James Harrison of Pittsburgh and have a huge day against the team that shunned him. Anderson has been a very pleasant surprise for Cleveland this year since taking over for Charlie Frye in week 2, and his stellar play has relegated highly touted rookie Brady Quinn to the bench for the time being. Anderson has thrown for 2231 yards and 20 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions. By comparison, the Ravens as a TEAM have scored 10 offensive touchdowns on the season. We’re not mathematicians here at the Nest, but it seems as though Anderson has twice as many scores as the Ravens team. If that doesn’t make you want to up-chuck your purple kool-aid, we’re not sure what will. Anderson has also shown that he is not intimidated by the purple-and-black defense, last year throwing for 223 yards and 2 TDs here in B-More. Defensively, the Ravens banged-up secondary will benefit greatly from the return of a healthy Chris McAlister, who has been practicing this week. Yes, the same Chris McAlister who got burnt for a 78 yard touchdown in Cleveland in week 4. As long as he can keep his eyes on his man and out of the backfield, C-Mac is still a huge upgrade over Corey Ivy or Derrick Martin, as we have witnessed in his absence. Fellow cornerback Samari Rolle is again out with his undisclosed illness, with no return in sight.

Nobody is happier about Derek Anderson’s play than Brady Quinn (right). Quinn will remain on the bench. Surrounded by men. Big, strong, sweaty men. Just like in his dreams.

On the ground, the Clowns feature running back Jamal Lewis, making his first trip back to charm city as a visitor. We are interested to see how he is greeted, as Lewis gave us Ravens fans reason to stand and cheer for many years, before leaving and taking some cheap shots at the organization (if you are going to the game, will you boo Lewis or cheer him? Let us know in the comments section). Lewis will face a Ravens defense that has been second-to-none (ok…second to one…but screw that one) in stopping the run this year, allowing a measly 73 yards per game. The NFL knows by now that the Ravens vulnerabilities are through the air, and Anderson will look to hook up with his favorite targets, WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow, Jr. The Ravens will need to get pressure on Anderson to have any chance of containing this high-flying Cleveland offense.

The Browns are terrible on defense….dead last in the NFL terrible…400 yards per game terrible. The Ravens should be able to throw at them, run at them, pass at them, and rush at them. Brain Billick needs to stop just saying he is going to feed Willis McGahee the rock and actually do it. Unless the Brown-stains build a double-digit lead, the Ravens NEED TO STICK WITH THE RUN. Musa Smith, Mike Anderson, get them all in the act. That will be the ticket Sunday, getting back to Ravens football – control the clock, pound the ball, and keep the other offense off the field. Even if our gut is telling us they will pull it out this week, until Billick and Company prove to us that they are capable of 1. not abandoning the run waaaay too early, and 2. putting anything on the scoreboard, we have no reason to believe they are capable of either.  However, I can’t actually pick them to lose… so…

Ravens 30 Browns 27

We want to hear your score predictions! Post them in the comments section!


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