It’s the first rematch of the season within a division in which all four teams are at least two games above .500. The red-hot Baltimore Ravens, leaders of the AFC North, bring a four-game winning streak into their second clash of 2023 with the Cleveland Browns. The teams have split their two-game set the previous two years and four of the past five seasons dating back to 2018.
Defense figures to be the headline attraction on Sunday. The Ravens have allowed the fewest points per game in the league and the Browns are third in the NFL in that same category. Cleveland defenders have allowed the fewest total yards in the league, along with a respectable 15 offensive touchdowns in eight outings. Baltimore has been even more impressive, ranking second in the NFL in total defense while giving up only nine offensive TDs.
Back in Week 4 at Cleveland, Browns’ rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson made his first NFL start and suffered through a forgettable afternoon. He barely completed 50 percent of his throws (19-of-36) for 121 yards. There were no touchdowns and three interceptions. The 2023 fifth-round draft choice was sacked four times and fumbled once (no turnover) in a 28-3 loss.
Mistakes have been costly to Kevin Stefanski’s team this season. Only the Bears (18) have committed more turnovers than the Browns (17) and Chicago’s total has come in 10 games, not eight. Quarterbacks Deshaun Watson (3), P.J. Walker (5) and Thompson-Robinson (3) have combined for 11 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles. Last Sunday’s 27-0 win over the visiting Arizona Cardinals marked the first game this season that the Browns did not commit a turnover.
So, does Stefanski’s team have a shot at cooling off a team that has won four straight games by a combined score of 130-49? The Browns have some issues on the offensive line and Watson must be careful with the ball. You will recall that he had a pair of miscues returned for touchdowns in the Week 2 Monday night loss at Pittsburgh.
Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson has been stellar as a passer, hitting on 71.5 percent of his throws for 1,954 yards and nine scores. However, he could also open the door for the Browns if Myles Garrett and company put on the heat. Baltimore’s field general has been sacked 21 times. He’s also fumbled 10 times and lost six of those miscues.
It figures to be a very physical affair in the land of crabcakes.