Welcome to another Purple Sunday, folks. Today’s is arguably the biggest of the season to this point, not only because the Ravens are going up against the hated Cleveland Browns, but because the Purple Birds are seeing their first regular season action in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium.
After a heartbreaking 15-10 loss at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals last week, the team looks to rebound and come out on top today in a game that head coach John Harbaugh has called a “must-win”.
The Browns came into this season with a roster lacking big-time talent, but an improvement from last year’s. Bringing in Jake Delhomme as their starting quarterback to compliment a strong rushing attack, Cleveland’s offense appears to have improved quickly. Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis are the two main rushers for Erik Mangini’s offense, with versatile halfback James Davis as their third option out of the backfield. The defense features experienced linebacker Scott Fujita and 1st-round draft pick Joe Haden, a cornerback out of Florida, but is still among the NFL’s worst.
In Week 1, narrowly lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs by a score of 17-14, with Peyton Hillis scoring a touchdown and Jake Delhomme connecting with receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for a score. Last week, they again lost by a narrow margin, this time to the Kansas City Chiefs, 16-14. With Delhomme injured, backup Seneca Wallace stepped in and threw a touchdown pass to Josh Cribbs, with Peyton Hillis rushing for the other touchdown. With Delhomme looking like he won’t be playing today, the Ravens will probably be seeing Wallace under center.
Keys To The Game:
- Joe Flacco rebounding from last week’s performance- Four interceptions is no small feat, and it’s not something you can have your QB do a lot. He’s looked uncomfortable thus far, hopefully a weaker Browns passing defense will help him settle in.
- Shutting down Josh Cribbs- Cribbs is one of the most dangerous players in the NFL, both in the return game and as a receiver. Shutting him down takes away the Browns’ biggest weapon and forces them to run the ball well. If the run defense steps up like they usually do, the Browns will have a tough time moving the ball.
- Ray Rice rushing for over 100 yards- He put up 87 last week on only 16 carries, and needs to be more involved with the offense. Flacco needs to know that the offense isn’t relying on him on every down, and nothing will assure him of that more than Rice having a big game.
- OUT: LB Tavares Gooden, OT Jared Gaither, WR Donte’ Stallworth
- DOUBTFUL: None
- QUESTIONABLE: None
- PROBABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe, TE Todd Heap, LB Jarrett Johnson, LB Jameel McClain, WR Derrick Mason, FB Le’Ron McClain, DT Haloti Ngata, HB Ray Rice, LB Terrell Suggs
- OUT: OG Shaun Lauvao
- DOUBTFUL: QB Jake Delhomme, WR Brian Robiskie
- QUESTIONABLE: LB Marcus Benard, HB Jerome Harrison, WR Carlton Mitchell, DT Shaun Rogers, RB Lawrence Vickers
- PROBABLE: LB Eric Barton, WR Josh Cribbs, TE Evan Moore, CB Derrick Roberson, LB Matt Roth, DL Brian Schaefering, DE Robaire Smith, OT John St. Clair, OT Joe Thomas, OG Floyd Womack
The Ravens should be able to handle this one pretty easily, as long as everyone does their job. Look for the Browns to wear down the defense a little bit, but nothing that would lead to a large amount of points.