Ravens vs Browns: Behind Enemy Lines


Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Connor Shaw (9) fumbles as he is sacked by Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams (98) during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost game day, and we wanted to gain some inside perspective on Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns showdown.  To do so, we reached out to Steven Kubitza at our FanSided sister site, Dawg Pound Daily.  Steven answered five questions for us, and we did the same for him.  Here is the info we gained, behind enemy lines.

The Browns have lost their last two games by 3 and 7 points respectively.  The Ravens have also been plagued with close losses this season, and both teams are currently 1-3.  Is it fair to say that the Browns are better than their record would indicate at this point?

On paper, the Browns are better than their record. However, they have lost these three games due to a lackluster defense and an offense that is dormant until the end of games. A complete or even semi-competent defensive effort would have easily won the game against the Chargers.

The offense has looked good at times, but have yet to piece together a complete game. They have also been tough to watch in the red zone, seemingly playing for field goals every time. So as much as I would like to think they should be 2-2 or 3-1, the 1-3 record fits them well.

Joe Haden has been one of the NFL’s better corners in recent seasons, but he was struggling prior to missing last week’s game against the Chargers.  Are his struggles injury related, or has the loss of Buster Skrine hurt the secondary more?

I don’t know if it is injuries so much as just having a slow start. He is expected to do so much in man-coverage, and his poor play is indicative of how the entire defense has played so far. The injuires are certainly not helping, but asking him to consistently shut down top receivers with little help is difficult even for the best in the game.

Gary Barnidge has set the fantasy world on fire over the last couple of games, which is pretty amazing for a 30 year old tight end.  Is he this year’s Justin Forsett?

I do believe Barnidge will continue to put up big numbers going forward. He has emerged as Josh McCown’s favorite target, but also as the most reliable target. Travis Benjamin was able to shine when Manziel was playing, but Barnidge has done a great job of providing McCown with sure completions in the middle of the field.

He also had that insane catch on the sideline against the Chargers, where he was bobbling the ball but secured it as he fell out of bounds. So he is more than just an average tight end. Picking him up in fantasy, if he is even available, is a smart move.

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Browns fans have been pretty vocal about their displeasure with the decision to go back to Josh McCown at quarterback.  Do you think that McCown truly gives the team a better chance to win than Johnny Manziel?

The argument comes from those who say McCown has lost all three of his starts, while Manziel won his only start. The defense also played well against the Titans in the Browns only win, which they have failed to do in the losses.

Josh McCown is careful with the football and never panics in the pocket. He will wait until the defender is about to hit him before either throwing the ball away or finding a nearby receiver. Manziel would have taken off running before the defender even got close. This is just a lack of experience, and McCown gives the Browns the best chance of winning. Fans just need to remember that if the quarterback isn’t making mistakes, the problems are elsewhere.

Finally, what is your prediction for the game?

After last week’s game I think, or hope, the Browns defense will show up in Baltimore. The offense and special teams pieced together a great game, but the defense once again let any chance of winning slip away.

Not being a homer, but because of the Ravens play thus far, I am going to go with the Browns in this game. 27-20.

Next: Ravens can compensate for Steve Smith injury

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