Browns vs. Ravens has finally arrived in the form of a heated AFC North battle in which both Cleveland and Baltimore are looking to avoid 0-2 starts.
If that sounds surprising, that’s because it is. Cleveland was downed at home by an iffy Miami Dolphins squad and the Super Bowl champs were embarrassed on national television by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Time for both teams to turn things around. Here are the main things to know about the showdown.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
When: September 15, 2013, 1:00 PM ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket, Game Rewind
Browns Player to Watch: Trent Richardson
What in the world were the Browns doing last weekend?
Brandon Weeden should never be throwing more than 40 passes in a game and Trent Richardson should never see any less than 25 carries. For whatever reason, the new staff in Cleveland decided to ignore that device last week and ended up losing.
Richardson is still the heart of the offense, no matter how much Cleveland wants to throw. Feed him the ball or lose. It’s as simple as that.
Ravens Player to Watch: Ray Rice
Same things goes for the Ravens at this point. Why would you not feed the ball to Ray Rice? Joe Flacco isn’t going to out-duel a lot of quarterbacks around the league, and he especially won’t now that Anquan Boldin is gone.
Ray Rice doesn’t carry the load, Baltimore doesn’t win. Get back to the physical football in the form of strong defense and running. That’s how Baltimore needs to win games now. It starts with Rice.
Matchup to Watch: Ravens Passing Game vs. Baltimore Secondary
That said, Flacco is going to have to get something going through the air. Boldin is gone and Dennis Pitta is gone, meaning it’s Torrey Smith’s time to shine.
Baltimore paid a lot of cash in the form of $100 million for Flacco, which is fine, but it was primarily based off a historic four-game stretch in the playoffs last year. We’ll see if it can translate to consistency. So far in 2013 it has not.
As much as the Browns look like an improved squad from a year ago, it’s going to be hard to overcome the Ravens at home coming off a loss. This game has the feeling of a toss-up as both offense are evenly matched and the defenses can be as well if the Browns play at a high level.
Baltimore going down 0-2 is hard to see happening, especially with plenty of time off to study the Browns and recoup. Ravens win a nail-biter.
Baltimore 23, Cleveland 20.