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Since when have your heard the sentence or phrase, “A must win game against the Browns” when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens.
Unfortunately, that may really be the case this weekend.
Already two weeks into the NFL season and the Ravens cannot afford to be 0-2 for the year, especially with the Broncos looking like the cream of the AFC crops and teams like Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati looking better and better each day. Even the Kansas City Chiefs look like a rejuvenated team these days.
The Browns could not show they belonged in the upper echelon of the NFL last week, falling to the Dolphins on the road. Now, they must face a Ravens team that was overmatched last week.
All of this points to a huge win for Baltimore at home and the night on which the team and the city celebrates their Super Bowl win.
If I were the Browns, I would call in sick.
Here are some bold predictions for this contest…
Slowing down the scoring
Where to begin? John Harbaugh's team allowed the most points in any game in the team's 18-year history. With longtime defensive mainstays Ray Lewis and Ed Reed gone, Baltimore could not stop Peyton Manning from tying an NFL record with seven touchdown passes and the Broncos from totaling 510 yards of offense.
The Ravens must come out and establish tempo early. Look for the Ravens to try and shut this team out.
Calling Ray Rice
The rushing game was nonexistent. The offensive game plan was shoddy and the work up front was a little dismal. Other than that, things went well. (Sarcasm). "What we need to do is take care of our business,” Harbaugh said in the ESPN.com piece. If we take care of our business, we're going to be in the hunt and make it interesting, and if we don't, we're not."
This is also applied to Ray Rice and his ability to run to daylight. He only ran for 36 yards last week (and a touchdown).
The Browns need to stop Rice early and make Flacco throw more on second and third down.
Brandon Weeeden was sacked six times last week and now faces a decent front seven for the Ravens.
Look for outside help from the tight end, but for the most part the Browns must keep Weeden clean during the game.
Weeden must also cut down on the three interceptions he threw in the first half last week.
Look for tight end Jordan Cameron, who made nine catches for 108 yards and a touchdown last week, to again be a huge target in the Browns passing game.