It's almost gameday Ravens Nation and today we are going to give you the five Baltimore Ravens to watch in tomorrow's matchup against the Cleveland Browns. There will be a couple obvious players to watch and maybe a surprise or two as well.
Both the Browns and Ravens come into the game 0-1 and neither want to fall to 0-2 to start the year as only 12% of teams that do fall to 0-2 have made the playoffs. In addition, the winner will remain tied atop the AFC North with the winner of tomorrow's Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers game.
Now let's get to it, who are the players we feel you need to watch on Sunday?
We told you there would be a couple obvious ones, and Flacco is one of them. His numbers suggested an OK performance last week, but several dropped passes prevented him from getting any serious momentum going. Coming off of a game that saw him throw the ball 62 times, Flacco will almost certainly not throw it that many times again, but his ability to communicate with the receivers is going to be key. One of his two interceptions last week came on a play where the receiver and he were not on the same page, so with ten days to prepare for Sunday's game, be sure to watch if Flacco and his receivers are on the same page.
If he was still a secret coming into last week, he is no longer, as he reeled in four grabs for 65 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens week one loss to the Broncos, and now with Jacoby Jones out, Brown is going to see an even larger role in this Ravens offense. Outside of Torrey Smith, Brown seemed to have best chemistry with Flacco on the timing of his routes and option routes, so his ability to contribute is going to go a long way in determining how the Browns defense will cover Smith. If Brown is becoming an obvious threat in the game, Cleveland may not be able to double cover Smith, which could open up the deep ball for Torrey and Flacco.
It is no secret that Rice is one of the logs that fuels the fire that is the Ravens offense, but last week he was held to just 36 yards rushing on 12 carries. Rice did rush for a score, but an average of three yards per carry is not acceptable to him and the Ravens will need more from Ray this week, especially with Pierce a little banged up. Do not get us wrong, we do realize that the Ravens were playing catch up for most of the second half and that was a factor in Rice not getting more rushing attempts, but Baltimore will have to try and establish the run this week so that the passing game can work off of it. Baltimore, and Flacco, did do a good job of using Rice in the passing game as he caught a team high eight passes last week, but most of those were check downs.
Huff had a pretty miserable regular season debut as a Raven, and will need to greatly improve in order for this secondary to perform better. Missed tackles, miscommunication, and poor coverage highlighted his underachieving performance, but he has worked hard all week and seems to be on a much better page with the communication aspect. Baltimore knows that Huff can tackle and cover, he has proven it in his past, he just had an off day in those departments last week.
Smith has been a pleasant under-the-radar signing for the Ravens at middle linebacker and played OK last week, but this week will be almost a 180 in regards to the opposing offense. The Browns have a very formidable running back in Trent Richardson, and will look to establish the run. Smith is going to have to keep a close eye on Richardson, and once the Browns begin to utilize play action, Smith will have to recognize it early in order to keep the short under route from Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden as an option. Weeden likes the middle of the field on play action as the linebackers get sucked into the line of scrimmage.
These are our five key players to watch in tomorrow's Ravens vs Browns matchup, do you agree or disagree? Did we leave someone off? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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