Match-up: Cleveland (0-2) @ Baltimore (1-1)
Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
Home Sweet Home:
Finally the Ravens are back home for their season opener after two tough road games. Another divisional match-up as the Cleveland Browns come to town and they are hungry for a win. After the Ravens last offensive performance the team should be motivated to get back on track and focused. The Ray Lewis and the defense are playing stellar, especially in the red-zone. The unit has yet to allow a touchdown.
The Browns despite being 0-2 are a much improved team and made some upgrades on both sides of the ball. The team signed veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme to take control of the offense. They also traded for QB Seneca Wallace who put up some decent numbers last week filling in for Delhomme (ankle injury). The team has high hopes for the young receiver Mohammed Massaquoi who has the potential to be a big playmaker. The dangerous kick returner Joshua Cribbs has been infused in the offense as a receiver and in the Wildcat formation.
Defensively, the team added a few veterans and improved the talent in the secondary. The team signed the veteran linebacker Scott Fujita and drafted Joe Haden, the top cornerback in the draft, along with rookie safety T.J. Ward (leads team with 18 solo tackles).
Chalk it Up:
Ravens Offense: After the offensive debacle in the last game, the unit may be looking for a more balanced approach. That means more carries for RB Ray Rice and more play action for Flacco. A key for Flacco: taking control at the line of scrimmage and recognizing coverages.
Ravens O-Line: There is a possibility of RT Oniel Cousins returning. In the meantime, M. Yanda will remain art right tackle and Chris Chester as guard. The Browns have a good defensive front with DE Robaire Smith, NT Shaun Rogers and ILB D’Qwell Jackson. While the Ravens pass protection has not been bad, they do need to tighten it up a bit.
Ray Rice vs. Browns LB’s: The Browns will be keying in on Ray Rice. LB Scott Fuijta and LB Chris Gocong were picked up by the Browns in the offseason to help contain the run.
Ravens Receivers vs. Browns Secondary: CB Sheldon Brown, rookie CB Joe Haden and rookie safety TJ Ward have been playing well. It is critical for Mason, Houshmanzadeh, Boldin and Heap to get separation from defenders.
Ravens Run Defense: The team will be focused on stopping the running game of Jerome Harrison and the defense could see RB James Davis in this game. Because the Browns have had some success through the air, the Ravens can’t over play the run.
Ravens Pass Rush: The defense will continue to show different looks at the line of scrimmage to improve the pass rush. This week means getting pressure on QB Seneca Wallace. Wallace threw for 229 yards with a TD and 1 INT in his first start for the Browns. On area of improvement for the unit will be increasing the number of take-aways and sacks.
Shaun Rogers, NT vs. C Matt Birk: The Browns strong nose tackle will be a challenge for veteran center Matt Birk.
OLB Suggs vs. LT Thomas: T-Sizzle will take on a solid left tackle in Joe Thomas.
ON THE RAVENS RADAR:
Joshua Cribbs, KR/WR: Joshua Cribbs is a threat whenever the ball is in his hands as a returner or receiver.
TE Benjamin Watson: QB Seneca Wallace became comfortable with TE Watson, connecting on 4 passes for 44 yards against the Chiefs.
Wild-Cat Formation: It wouldn’t be unusual for the Browns offense to bring in Joshua Cribbs or QB Seneca Wallace under center. The team used the Wildcat formation 4 times in their opener against Tampa.
“PLAYER TO MAKE HIGHLIGHT FILM:”
Jonathan Scruggs: Joe Flacco
“Reason: After two weeks of lackluster play, Joe has a lot to prove to his critics. This weekend against the Browns he can regain form by blowing out a weaker opponent in front of a raucous home crowd. “
Matt Jergensen: Ray Rice
“This guy is the offensive star of the team so when your offense sputters every fan will look to his stat line first. He was fairly productive against Cincinnati and he should have been even more involved. Look for his number to be called early and often for the home opener.”
Gene Winner: Derrick Mason
“Flacco has to get back to his bread and butter. Mason should provide some key receptions in the game.”
Last week’s ‘Highlight Player’ winner:Jonathan Scruggs picking Terrell Suggs.
BROWNS of Late:
Most likely QB Seneca Wallaceshould be the starter as Jake Delhomme is not yet recovered from a high ankle sprain.
RB Peyton Hillisis the teams goal-line and short yardage specialist. Hillis had eight carries and scored a TD against Kansas City.
The Browns steady punter Dave Zastudil (former Raven) is on IR and the team signed free agent Reggie Hodges.
RAVENS players returning:
CB Cary Williams returns from a two game suspension, we may see him in for a few plays.
DT Terrence Cody should be ready for this game after recovering from a minor knee procedure.
RT Oniel Cousins: There is a possibility he may be inserted in the line.