Week two officially began last night with the New England Patriots sloppy 13-10 win over the New York Jets, but for the rest of the NFL week two is still a couple days away. Today we are going to provide you with a preview of Sunday’s matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.
After opening the season on the road, the Ravens return to Charm City this week for their home opener against their AFC North rival Browns.
Both teams come into the game with losses, and both teams led their respective games at halftime. The Browns hosted the Miami Dolphins and led 7-6 at the half courtesy of a Brandon Weeded touchdown pass, but their defense surrendered 18 second half points en route to a 24-10 loss.
This is a game that could be considered a trap game for the Ravens as they are at home, favored and coming off a loss, but they need to be careful. Although they were playing catch-up most of the second half, Baltimore did not run the ball very effectively last week and will need to this week to help take some of the burden off of Joe Flacco’s shoulders. Last week we saw Flacco throw the ball 62 times, and with this group of wide receivers, the Ravens are not going to win many game when Flacco has to throw the ball that many times. Thus the running game with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will be vastly important to Baltimore’s offensive effort this week.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Baltimore secondary is coming off an abysmal performance last week as they allowed Peyton Manning to tie the NFL single game record of seven touchdown passes. The Ravens secondary, and more specifically Jimmy Smith, Corey Graham and Michael Huff, will have to play much, much better this week if they do not want to allow Weeden to pick them apart.
Baltimore’s secondary could use some help though, as the Ravens front seven, although they did sack Manning three times in the game last week, did not supply consistent pressure on the quarterback. It will be key for Baltimore to consistently get in the face of Weeden to force him to throw the ball sooner, and thus limit the time the Ravens secondary has to cover receivers.
One of the bigger areas to watch for with the Ravens will be the return game with the absence of Jacoby Jones. It has remained unclear who will be returning kickoffs this week, especially with the resigning of WR Tandon Doss and free agent signing of RB/KR Shaun Draughn. Lardarius Webb has been named the punt returner this week, so only time will tell how this special teams unit responds to the loss of Jones.
This is a game that Baltimore, their fans and most NFL experts expect the Ravens to win, and handedly at that, but if there is one thing we have learned about the NFL it is that games are not played on paper and anything can happen. The Ravens are going to have to show up ready to play, as only 12% of teams to start 0-2 have reached the playoffs. Ravens Nation will be ready to cheer them on in their first home game of the 2013 regular season.
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