The Ravens (8-6) may be getting the right team to stop their turnover trend. The Browns (4-10) have forced 20 turnovers, which is the sixth lowest in the NFL. "There's a lot of reasons for turnovers: physical, mental and emotional," coach Brian Billick said. "Somehow we got to find the equation. You show them, you coach them up to it, you warn them about the potentials for it. Turnovers are going to get you beat."
The Browns will be looking to stop a trend, too. Ravens running back Jamal Lewis has gained 100 yards in all five of his meetings with Cleveland. Over that run, he has averaged 168 yards. Combine that with the fact that the Browns have given up a 100-yard rusher in their past three games. Plus, this is a rematch with Lewis, who set the NFL record with 295 yards rushing three months ago against Cleveland. "We were embarrassed the last time with him breaking the record on us the last time," linebacker Andra Davis said. "But what done is done. We have another opportunity to go out there and stop him. Earlier in the year, guys were trying to do too much. We were jumping out of gaps trying to make a play. There's more trust on this unit now. We believe in each other."
The Ravens have to believe they can win on the road. They are 2-5 away from home and haven't won on the road since Oct. 12 at Arizona. "It is tough playing on the road," Billick said. "I have said it a thousand times, 'I think playing on the road in the NFL is the toughest thing to do in all of professional team sports.' In the NFL simply because of the emphasis and importance of every game, there is a home field advantage, and there is a reason for that."
SERIES HISTORY: 10th meeting. The Ravens lead the series, 6-3, including a 33-13 win at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 2. The Ravens have won two of the past three meetings. Three months ago, the Ravens beat Cleveland on the strength of running back Jamal Lewis, who ran for an NFL-record 295 yards. He set the tone on the first carry of the game, breaking an 82-yard run for a touchdown.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--The Ravens' game at Cleveland will mark their final game against the Browns with Art Modell as their owner. In 1996, Modell moved his franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore. Since Cleveland re-entered the league five years ago, the Ravens have won six of the nine meetings. Modell will step down as owner after season when he sells his remaining 51 percent of the franchise to Steve Bisciotti. "I am sure it will stir up a little bit, but l think we have gotten past that," coach Brian Billick said. "Hopefully it is to the point where it is two storied NFL cities going at one another in a divisional game. This is an emotional time for Art. Surely this game means a lot to us, but for Art, it means a lot simply because it is a divisional game and it has playoff implications. So we will focus on it as that."
Said Browns coach Butch Davis: "To be honest with you, as an outsider, not having grown up in Ohio, I can't tell you whether the fans have forgotten or forgiven, as time goes by, the Baltimore Ravens no longer become the Cleveland Browns that moved to Baltimore. They have almost 10 years now of their own identity, so I don't how the fans feel about it. Most of the guys that are on our football team, they have no history of it. As far as they know, most of these guys were in elementary and junior high school when that happened. This is the Baltimore Ravens as far as they are concerned."
--Before Jamal Lewis broke the NFL record against the Browns in Week 2, he predicted a career game in a phone conversation with linebacker Andra Davis. There will be no such communication this week.
"We'll talk after the game," Davis said, "but I am going to keep my mouth closed this time."
--The last time offensive tackle Orlando Brown played at Cleveland Browns Stadium, he was hit in the eye by a referee's flag in a December 1999 game, temporarily blinding him and forcing him out of football until this season. The NFL suspended him indefinitely for shoving down the referee after the flag hit him in the eye, and Brown subsequently filed a lawsuit against the league that was settled out of court. "It's going to go cross my head," Brown said of the flag incident. "It's like anytime you ride down the street and you go past a spot where you've had a car accident. ... "Earlier in the year, I was still upset and had so much negative stuff to say about Carmen [Policy, Browns president] and all of them. But in the last couple of months, I've grown up some and put it behind me. All that has happened up there is motivation for me, so I'm going to be ready to go."
--In the 39 games that running back Jamal Lewis and linebacker Ray Lewis (no relation) have played together over the last four years, the Ravens are 26-13.
--The Ravens are 26-13 in games played in November and December, the league's fifth-best winning percentage in those months.
--When leading at halftime, the Ravens are 7-0. When they trail by six or more points at the end of the first quarter, they are 0-4.
--The Ravens have outscored their opponents, 126-65 in the fourth quarter.
--When the Ravens force multiple turnovers, they are 8-1.
--In five seasons under Billick, the Ravens have a 23-6 record when they produce a 100-yard rusher.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Raven remaining who moved with the team from Cleveland in 1996 and has remained with franchise for all eight seasons (kicker Matt Stover).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "No one here is surprised that the division race is coming down to the final two games. We lost an opportunity in Oakland to control things, and we'll have to try and win this the hard way. We'll be ready for a real fight at Cleveland." -- Brian Billick on his team's mindset in falling into a first-place tie with Cincinnati after being upset by Oakland.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Ravens are going to rely on Corey Fuller to hold his own in his old stomping grounds. Fuller was benched as the starting cornerback a couple of weeks ago and has been relegated to nickel back. Since the Browns use more three-receiver sets than anyone in the AFC North, the Ravens will have to play nickel almost half of the time. That means Fuller, whose speed has declined throughout the season, will see his most extensive action this month. Fuller can still be physical at the line but his recovery is very weak. Most of the time, Fuller plays off receivers nearly 7 to 8 yards. The Ravens try to help Fuller by having a safety exclusively cover the deep zone behind him. Besides Fuller, the Ravens are extremely strong at corner with Chris McAlister and Gary Baxter, two physical and fast defenders.
--LB Adalius Thomas (elbow) has been placed on injured reserve.
--LB T.J. Slaughter was signed to take Thomas' roster spot. Slaughter started three games for the Jacksonville Jaguars and spent time with the Green Bay Packers before being released last week.
--LB Ray Lewis (shoulder) is questionable and was limited in practice as a precautionary measure. It's a bruise on his right shoulder, which is not the one that required season-ending surgery last year. He is wearing a harness to protect the right shoulder. "It is going to be what it is going to be," Lewis said of his shoulder. "It's feeling pretty good. It is a regular season injury, nothing life threatening. I didn't tear anything or hurt anything. Just general soreness."
--LG Edwin Mulitalo (groin) is questionable but practiced.
--FB Alan Ricard (ankle) is questionable but practiced.
--RB Chester Taylor (leg) is questionable but practiced.
--FB Alan Ricard (ankle) is questionable but practiced.
--Jamal Lewis continues to lead the NFL in rushing with 1,747 yards, which is 153 more than Denver's Clinton Portis, the league's second-leading rusher.
--Lewis needs to average 126.5 yards in his last two games to become the fifth running back in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards.
--Linebacker Ray Lewis needs two more tackles to reach 200 for the season.
--Safety Ed Reed needs one more interception to tie Rod Woodson for the Ravens' single-season record of seven.
--Tight end Todd Heap needs two more catches to pass Shannon Sharpe, who is fourth on the team's all-time reception list with 140.
GAME PLAN: The Ravens aren't hiding the fact that they will primarily run the ball against Cleveland and control the clock. In their last meeting with the Browns, the Ravens ran the ball on 41 of 63 offensive plays. The passing game should open up with Cleveland's starting cornerbacks, Daylon McCutcheon (ankle) and Anthony Henry (knee), both banged up.
Defensively, the Ravens have respect for backup Jamel White, who was pressed into starting with the rash of problems at running back. But the Ravens know they have to slow down the Browns' talented receiving corps. The best way is to pressure Tim Couch. After getting no sacks last week, the Ravens are looking to crank their pass rush back up.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Ravens pass defense vs. Browns quarterback Tim Couch. Over their last three games, the Ravens have produced six interceptions and six sacks while holding teams to under 186 yards net passing. Last week, Couch completed just eight passes but half were for 27 yards or more.
--Ravens running back Jamal Lewis vs. Browns middle linebacker Andra Davis. In five career games against Cleveland, Lewis has averaged 168 yards a game and 7.0 yards a carry. Andra Davis led the Browns with 12 tackles last week, but also was part of a defense that gave up a 100-yard game to a running back for the third game in a row.
INJURY IMPACT: Quarterback Kyle Boller (leg) is scheduled to be the backup quarterback.
--Linebacker Terrell Suggs will make his second start in place of Adalius Thomas, who was placed on injured reserve.