The Baltimore Ravens got bruised and battered quickly this season. It’s hard to tell what exactly their original plan for success was. The Ravens need to find whatever their Plan B is quickly. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are both off to 2-1 starts and are tied with Baltimore atop the division.
While the Ravens won’t see the hated Steelers until later in the season, Baltimore will have to handle the Browns this weekend. Cleveland hasn’t made it through the early part of the schedule without its woes either. Fortunately for the Browns, they were able to win their first game without Nick Chubb against Tennessee last week.
But the Titans don’t appear to be a serious challenge for the playoffs. Cleveland and Baltimore will both get a true feeling for where they stand when they renew hostilities this week. The Browns may be catching the Ravens at the right time. Baltimore has a lot of moving pieces right now, and it will likely take them time to jell together.
Cleveland Hasn’t Done Well with Baltimore
The Ravens are an insulting reminder of what could have been for Cleveland. While the Browns have yet to appear in a Super Bowl, the Ravens had found plenty of success in Baltimore after moving there from Cleveland. Not only have the Ravens won two Super Bowls, but Baltimore has posted a 35-13 record over Cleveland since the Browns came back into the league in 1999.
The two teams split their meetings last season. Over the past 10 games, the Browns have a 4-6 record in the series. The Browns haven’t swept a season series with the Ravens since 2007. Cleveland is a 2.5-point home favorite for the game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Ravens Running Game Has Been Devastated
Baltimore can’t seem to find a running back that can stay healthy. The Ravens’ woes started in Week 1, when J.K. Dobbins suffered an injury that will keep him out for the season. Not much has gone right since.
Ravens running back Gus Edwards suffered a concussion in Week 3 against the Colts, while Justice Hill also suffered a foot injury. The ever-lengthening injury report has made it difficult for Baltimore to adjust to a first-year offensive coordinator. Melvin Gordon and Kenyan Drake may be counted on to fill in this weekend. Drake is a player the Ravens signed to the practice squad last week.
Watson Steps Up
Missing running back Nick Chubb will eventually hurt the Browns. But if quarterback Deshaun Watson lives up to his contract like he did last Sunday, Cleveland has a chance to still be competitive. Even without their Pro Bowl running back, the Browns offense was effective against Tennessee last week.
For the first time this season, Watson finished with a quarterback rating over 100. Watson also produced season highs in completion percentage (81.8%), passing yards (289), and touchdown passes (two). There was one moment that Watson won’t want to relive.
During one pass rusher, Watson panicked when he was about to be hit by a Tennessee defender. He fired the ball behind him wildly and was lucky one of his teammates was able to corral the ball before the defense could.
Van Noy Will Comeback to Try and Help Ravens
Veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy likely thought his career was over. Van Noy, 32, showed last season that he had plenty left in the tank. The Chargers found out what having a player with Super Bowl experience could do for a team.
While making their first run to the playoffs since 2018, Van Noy, playing on a one-year deal, had a stretch where he recorded a sack in five straight games. Baltimore could use someone with Van Noy’s savvy. Much like at running back, the Ravens have also been beaten up by injuries at other positions.
Baltimore had seven starters missed last week. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was out, and another outside linebacker, David Ojabo, got hurt during the game.
Garrett Wakes Up
There was no escape for the Titans last week. Cleveland’s defense held Tennessee to a historic-low 94 total yards of offense. A large part of the Browns’ defensive dominance was the return to form of defensive lineman Myles Garrett. During the first two weeks, Garrett only had three tackles and one sack.
But against the Titans, everything fell into place for Cleveland. Black sports news shows Garrett tortured Tennessee tackle Andre Dillard. He finished with 3.5 sacks, forced a fumble and five tackles. The Browns’ defense held Tennessee to the fewest yards since they moved from Houston in 1997. Previously, the Titans’ lowest yardage total in a game was 98 against Jacksonville in 2006.
Jackson is Upset With the Offense
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson doesn’t want to make excuses for the Ravens. While weather and injuries did play a factor in some of the sloppiness, Jackson wants everyone to do better. Top sports updates show Baltimore fumbled four times and lost two last Sunday.
Jackson completed 71 percent of his passes but didn’t make many big plays in the passing game. Jackson has only thrown for two touchdowns in the first three games despite completing 70 percent or more of his passes in all three games.
Browns’ Running Game Needs Explosiveness
Cleveland hopes once Kareem Hunt gets back in the swing of things, he can provide a little bit of what they’re missing with Chubb’s absence. Last week, Hunt was looking to find his groove after not starting the season with a team.
Hunt finished with five carries for 13 yards. None of the Cleveland running backs really wowed last week. Pierre Strong Jr. finished with a team-high 27 yards on six carries.
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