The Baltimore Ravens are coming out of their bye week with back-to-back AFC North matchups beginning this week with the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore travels to Ohio in what is now an extremely important game for both teams following the Cincinnati Bengals loss Thursday Night that opens the door to gain a game in the division race.
It is easy to sit back and think that the Ravens can all but go ahead and put this one down as a win, since Joe Flacco has never lost to the Browns, and after all, they are the Browns. Not so fast though, as this year’s team is better than past Cleveland teams and when you look at the numbers, the Ravens and Browns are very evenly matched.
Neither the Browns nor the Ravens have been very prolific on offense as Baltimore ranks 20th in the NFL averaging 328.7 yards per game, while the Browns are not far behind with 317 average yards per game, which ranks them 24th.
It’s not just total offense either, as Cleveland averages just 82.6 rushing yards per game, which is seventh worst in the league, while the Ravens 74 rushing yards per game is fifth worst. It is not going to get any easier in that aspect for either team as both defenses stop the run pretty well. Cleveland ranks 11th in all of football holding opponents to an average of 103.6 rushing yards per game, while the Ravens are 13th allowing just 104.3 rushing yards per game.
Perhaps the biggest gap between the two teams comes on passing defense. The Browns have been one of the best pass defending teams in league this season as they rank sixth in passing yards allowed at just 216.8 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Ravens have struggled somewhat in that area and come in 16th in the league allowing 238.7 passing yards per game.
One thing is for certain, we will get too see some quarterbacks get sacked in this game as two of the top six pass rushing teams in football are playing. Baltimore’s 3.6 sacks per game ranks second in the NFL, while the Brown’s 3.2 sacks per game is sixth, so obviously one of the key factors in this game will be which offensive line can protect their quarterback the most.
Make no mistake about it, this is going to be a hardnosed, hard fought, typical AFC North showdown between two teams that are pretty evenly matched and both need a win to move one game closer in the division race after the Bengals loss on Thursday.
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