The Baltimore Ravens have a stout defense – that’s a given. Perhaps the only difference being that the team defsnse isn’t quite as stingy as in seasons past. They hope to revert to their old ways when they visit the 1-2 Cleveland Browns this Sunday. The Ravens are coming off a hard-fought win over the Arizona Cardinals, 26-23, while the Browns are reeling from a 26-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders last weekend.
The Ravens are the benefactors of good quarterback play from both Steve McNair and reserve Kyle Boller. McNair started the Cardinals-Ravens game but was replaced by Boller due to an injury suffered by McNair (groin). The team, depending on the weekly health of McNair, may continue the QB rotation until circumstances dictate to do otherwise. The Ravens fortunately have a decent running attack led by Willis McGahee (66-272, 9 receptions for 63 yards and 1 TD). The Ravens defense, as previously mentioned, remains stout; however, their strong suit as opposed to recent years, is their run defense (61.7 yards allowed/game – 1st in the league).
The Browns’ offense has been inconsistent thus far (554 yards vs. Cincinnati, 312 vs. Oakland). Derek Anderson has good numbers (51 for 98, 760 yards, 7 TD and 4 INT), but to be fair, half of those numbers were against Cincinnati – hence the inconsistency. Their running game’s in good shape with Jamal Lewis (53-307-1 TD). Wide receiver Braylon Edwards (15-278-3) and tight end Kellen Winslow (16-271-1 TD) lead the Browns receiving corps. The Browns, unfortunately, have the 31st-ranked defense in the league. Despite that truth, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley is having a solid season (10 tackles, 9 solo, 2 sacks).
The Ravens will obviously try to establish the run, which they will do successfully. Whether McNair or Boller starts, they will at the very least be efficient against the Browns’ overworked secondary. For the Browns to pull off the upset, they will need a Herculean effort by Anderson and the same from Lewis, as the rushing D of the Ravens run D should hold Lewis in check. Anderson should post respectable numbers, but again – the Ravens’ defense should boost the team to 3-1 with a decisive win.