The Ravens (10-4) are coming off a loss in San Diego; it was one of their worst defeats this season in terms of getting out played and out-coached. Now instead of worrying about home field advantage in the playoffs, they look to redirect their priorities on playing playoff caliber football. As pointed out by our editor Matt Jergensen, because of the Pittsburgh loss, the Ravens are back in line for a playoff bye.
The Ravens recently faced the Browns in week 13 and won decisively. The final was 24-10 and Rice Rice ran for 204 yards. The Ravens defense held Peyton Hillis in check and flustered QB Colt McCoy.
Heading into this game the Ravens will mostly likely have the same strategy as they did in week 13, a heavy dose of Ray Rice. The Ravens defense will make it their priority to get back on track with a dominating performance. The unit will most likely face quarterback Seneca Wallace because Colt McCoy suffered a concussion in week 14 and still hasn’t been cleared to play as of yet. Last week in Arizona QB Wallace threw for 226 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions ( NFL rating of 91.0). As always special teams coverage will be critical as their returner Joshua Cribbs is a threat in the open field. Cleveland is 4-10 on the year and 1-6 on the road in 2011.
Cleveland’s Run D vs. Ray Rice: Cleveland was not happy Rice ran for 204 yards in the first match-up. Look for the Browns to commit more defenders to the run. The problem for Cleveland is they continue to struggle defending the run, ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed per game (145.5).
Browns Secondary vs. Joe Flacco: Let’s face the facts, Flacco looked bad in San Diego and he must turn his game around quickly heading into the playoffs. The Browns held Flacco to 158 yards the first match-up. That was mainly due to the Ravens dominate running game. What will be the challenge is when the Ravens get into a 3rd and long situation and Flacco is forced to pass against a stingy secondary ranked 3rd in passing yards allowed (188.4). Key Match-up: CB Joe Haden vs. WR Torrey Smith. –Look for the Ravens to make a concerted effort to get the ball downfield heading into the playoffs.
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