Here are some matchups to look at against Cleveland:
Does the run D step up after a horrible three-week skid that saw 622 rushing yards allowed?
Most of the front seven players I talked to this week were confident that the issues that have plagued them in recent weeks will be fixed today. They expressed confidence, largely due to the fact they were able to contain Trent Richardson in Week 4. The problem of late is guys like Terrence Cody, Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Art Jones are getting stood up and are unable to gain leverage by getting low. In addition, Paul Kruger has noticeably been slow off the snap, as has been Pernell McPhee, who won't play today. Getting Terrell Suggs back is huge, and with him expected to take a much bigger role this week, the Ravens will hope edges are set and blockers will be occupied.
Does Ray Rice get the ball enough today?
Ray Rice saw nine carries against Houston. That's not going to cut it moving forward. He must get his touches in the running game for Baltimore to be successful. The Ravens are 9-0 against Cleveland under John Harbaugh and of late the wins have come usually due to Rice moving the chains and breaking big runs. Last year at Cleveland, Rice ran for a career-high 204 yards. It's a simple formula: Give Rice plenty of carries and Baltimore usually wins.
Can Baltimore's secondary slow down Browns up-and-coming passing attack?
Brandon Weeden threw for 320 yards in Week 4's meeting and has been improving since, not counting last week's windy game against San Diego. Rookie receiver Josh Gordon has emerged into a deep threat and Greg Little doesn't appear to be dropping as many passes as he was earlier this season. Throw in Mohamed Massaquoi, who's back in the fold, and the Browns receivers aren't as bad as they'd seem earlier in the year. Without Lardarius Webb, can the Ravens DBs keep them under wraps? Cary Williams had a big pick for a touchdown in Week 4 and has been improving since starting slowly this season. Jimmy Smith will be counted on for a big game if Cleveland decides to replicate what it was able to do against Baltimore the first time.
Do Browns CB Joe Haden and DT Phil Taylor make a difference?
In Week 4, Haden was suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. As a result, Baltimore had an average-at-best secondary to throw against and made the most of it, with Joe Flacco throwing for 356 yards. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith were able to have big days as a result. Now that Haden is back, it might be harder for the outside receivers to get open deep. Haden's one of the better young corners in the league as he's physical and can stick with receivers down the field. This kind of a matchup could be tough on Torrey Smith. In addition, Taylor looks to be playing after coming off the PUP list this week. The Browns already had a stingy front four and now that could look even more dangerous with Taylor back in the rotation.
Prediction: I do think the Ravens run the ball and win the time of possession battle for just the second time this season. I also don't think we'll see a whole lot of no-huddle. They may open in it but it's a recipe for disaster, in my opinion, to stick with it the entire game on the road. I believe Rice gets the needed touches, as well as Bernard Pierce seeing more carries than he has previously. The Ravens pull this one out on the road 20-13.
Ravens-Browns: Matchups to watch
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