The Ravens are flying high after a last second week three victory over the New England Patriots, but need to focus and prepare for a week 4 fight against a scrappy Browns team. While it is true that the Browns aren’t exactly world beaters, it is also true that there is no such thing as a non-dangerous NFL team. With that in mind, lets take a look at some match-ups.
3. Joe Flacco vs. Browns CBs- Normally this would be a pretty even matchup. From top to Bottom the Browns secondary is solid but not spectacular with the exception of one man, Joe Haden. Haden is a top five player at his position and is a matchup nightmare. Unfortunately for the Browns and fortunately for the Ravens, Haden is suspended for violating the NFLs substance abuse policies. Without Haden, The Browns secondary becomes very average and Flacco has been far above average this season. He is currently second in the NFL in passing yards per game and has a 6/2 TD/INT ratio in three games against 2 current top 10 defenses and one top 10 defense in 2011.
2. Ed Reed vs. Brandon Weeden- Through three games, Brandon Weeden has been the foil of Joe Flacco. He has struggled mightily in his transition to the NFL and has looked lost on many occasions. Weeden still might be a very good QB, but he isn’t anywhere near ready to square off with the NFLs best safety. Ed Reed is 4 for 4 in making my best match-ups this season and in each game he has made big plays that shifted the momentum of the game. Reed has always taken it upon himself to welcome rookie QBs to the NFL the hard way. Expect Reed to make life difficult for Weeden tomorrow night.
1. Ray Rice vs. Cleveland defense- In the two games last season against the Browns, Rice averaged over 145 yards and 30 receiving yards per game. Rice has been shredding the Browns defense for years and all signs indicate he should be able to continue that streak this season. The only thing holding him back is the potential for Cam Cameron to get a little cute with the game-plan and try and throw 50 times.
Honorable Mention- Ravens CBs vs. Browns WRs- The Ravens secondary has taken a lot of heat so far this season, but they really dont deserve most of it. Through three games the Ravens have played 3 pro bowl QBs including Tom Brady who is arguably the best of all time. In those three games the Ravens have allowed 1 passing TD (im not counting the Vick TD to Maclin, that wasn’t a secondary breakdown, that was a mass defense mis-communication) and intercepted 3 passes. That is not to shabby. The Browns best WR this year has been Mohommed Massaquaoi but he has been ruled out for the game. The only guy in their receiving group that poses a threat is Greg Little.
3. Cleveland Browns anger vs. Baltimore Ravens complacency- I wracked my brain for quite a while trying to think of a pure personnel mismatch that the Browns present, but the truth is there simply isnt a third option here. like i said earlier Joe Haden would have put the Browns secondary on this side of the article, but without him they just dont have another mismatch. That said, the Ravens have a bad habit of losing this type of game. Three of the Ravens four losses from a year ago were against lower teir teams after big wins. the Ravens desperately need to avoid that trap. To read more about this phenomenon in the Ravens Psyche, check out this feature written by EbonyBird.com staff writer Terry Swain.
2. Trent Richardson vs. Ravens front seven- In three games Trent Richardson has yet to go off in a major way for an entire game. He has however shown flashes of being right on the cusp of greatness. He is an extremely dangerous player and should not be taken lightly just because he is a rookie. Richardson has averaged 3.5 yards per carry so far this season, the Ravens need to make sure it stays that way.
1. Ravens Pass Rush vs. Browns Offensive Line- The Browns offensive line is similar to their secondary. they are a very solid group overall, but they are mostly built off the back of one player. In this case that player is Joe Thomas. Thomas, for my money, is the best tackle in the NFL by a pretty wide margin. The Ravens will have trouble getting any kind of pass rush on the left side with Thomas in the way. That means that the Browns know that on any given week most of the pass rush is going to try and attack their right side and they plan their blocking patterns accordingly. Joe Thomas awaits on the left side and double teams and chips await on the right side. This a tough line to get through.