The Browns need a lot of things to go right to topple the Ravens, who will celebrate their Super Bowl championship before today’s game.
First of all, they have to protect Brandon Weeden. He received a lot of criticism from the fans last week, but it’s hard to make big plays when you’re running for your life.
Second, they have to control the ball and the clock with Trent Richardson on the ground. If you’re going to draft a running back No. 3 overall, you have to put the offense in his hands and give him a chance to become the superstar you’ve tabbed him to be.
Finally, the Browns have to force Flacco into mistakes. It won’t be easy. Flacco is missing Anquan Boldin (trade) and Dennis Pitta (injury) from last year, so the Browns may be able to stop the long pass.
However, the Browns have to bring pressure on Flacco on all sides or he will sit in the pocket and pick them apart with short- to medium-range passes.
It’s almost a guarantee that the Ravens won’t look as bad as they did against the Broncos in the opener, but it’s clear that Baltimore is not the Super Bowl-caliber team they were last February.
The Browns have a slim chance to win this game. They need two or three players to step up and make big, dramatic plays.
Prediction: Baltimore 28, Cleveland 21.
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