Ravens Browns: 5 keys to the game

The return of another regular Ravens Insider column, Aaron's '5 keys to the game' appears every week before the game and is complimented by a post game '5 reasons for the win' article later on tonight or early Monday.<br><br> Stay tuned for total Ravens coverage here at Ravens Insider

1. Establish the running game.

Behind Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens are looking to triplicate a record of dominance against the Cleveland Browns. Lewis rushed for a total of 500 yards in two games against the Browns last year, shattering the NFL single-game mark with 295 yards last September. Cleveland hasn't done much to refute Lewis' claim over them, other than defensive end Kenard Lang's bravado this week about how Lewis "ain't going to cross the line." In six games against Cleveland, Lewis has rushed for 1,043 yards, six touchdowns and 7.3 yards per carry. Lewis reported with his lowest body-fat percentage since his rookie campaign and was rested liberally during the preseason. The Browns were humiliated last year, but sheer motivation doesn't typically override a lack of bulk in the front seven and reluctant tacklers in the secondary.

2. Contain the Browns' retooled passing game.

With new quarterback Jeff Garcia and rookie tight end Kellen Winslow working in tandem with talented wideouts like Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan and Andre Davis, the Browns potentially have a potent aerial game. Baltimore counters with an ultra-talented secondary that includes Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, returning starter Gary Baxter and celebrated nickel back Deion Sanders. Garcia's mobility is a definite factor and the Ravens will need to maintain discipline to keep him in the pocket. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan might need to be quite selective about blitzing Reed because of the need to use him as the last line of defense. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is the top threat to generate a pass rush against Garcia.
3. Take pressure off of Jamal Lewis.

Second-year quarterback Kyle Boller has taken steps to improve his fundamentals, mechanics and pocket presence under the tutelage of consultant Jim Fassel. However, it's unclear whether last year's first-round draft pick will emerge as a consistent threat based on an uneven preseason he capped with a strong finale. To keep the Browns honest, Boller will have to make some plays downfield with Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap and former Browns wideout Kevin Johnson.

4. Tackle William Green.

The Browns' troubled former first-round selection is likely to shoulder most of the workload because of Lee Suggs' injury. He's a power back, and Baltimore tends to handle them well.

5. Limit turnovers.

If the Ravens keep fumbles and turnovers to a minimum and win the field-position battle, they'll be in good position to improve to 5-1 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

How the Browns can win:

1. Tackle Jamal Lewis better than in previous tries, bottling him up inside to force quarterback Kyle Boller to make decisions and throw the football.

2. Make big plays with Jeff Garcia in tandem with tight end Kellen Winslow to keep Baltimore from loading up to stop William Green and Co.

3. Avoid overpursuing Lewis, which created gaping cutback lanes a year ago.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

 


Ravens Insider Top Stories