The Baltimore Ravens hope to move to 3-1 and into the AFC North lead this weekend when they will be paying a visit to the Cleveland Browns (2-1) for the first meeting between the two divisional rivals in the 2023 regular season.
Baltimore has already beaten AFC North foe Cincinnati, and so has Cleveland which nonetheless fell to Pittsburgh a week later. Perhaps more damaging for the Browns' season outlook and postseason hopes, Cleveland also lost their best player in running back Nick Chubb back then.
To get more insight from the Browns' side of things, I spoke to Brad Ward of The Orange & Brown Report, 247Sports' site dedicated to the Cleveland Browns.
Brad touched on all topics you can imagine to give us a better picture of what waits for Baltimore come kick-off time next Sunday.
Check out Brad's answers below!
What is your opinion of the Browns' defense? The team might lack offensive punch with Nick Chubb down for the year, but the defense has been stout, hasn't it?
Admittedly, it is a small sample size of three weeks, and none of the offenses they have faced are great; however, Jim Schwartz has this group playing some elite defense so far.
The additions of Dalvin Tomlinson, Maurice Hurst, Za'Darius Smith, and Juan Thornhill, among others, have mixed well with Myles Garrett and their good corners of Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, and M.J. Emerson.
Schwartz has this defense playing aggressively and fast up front and is mixing in some exotic looks on the back end. They played the best defensive game I have seen a Browns defense play last week. They have the potential to be a top-five unit.
Does this offense have a future with Chubb out for the year? Will Deshaun Watson get back to his best version?
The run game will not be the same; no question about that. It looks like a combination of Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt at running back moving forward.
Watson has been poor until last week when he played his best game since his return. I need to see him stack a couple of games in a row before feeling good about what he will play week in and week out. I believe he returns to form at some point, the question is if it will be in time to make this team a contender.
What has surprised you the most about the Browns through three weeks? Do they stand a chance of winning a brutally competitive AFC North?
The biggest surprise is how quickly the defense has picked up Schwartz's scheme.
The other surprise is the level of play from Grant Delpit. He looks like a star through three weeks.
If the Browns' defense continues to play at this level, they can compete in the AFC North. They need Watson to play like he did last week or at least similarly, but the defense gives them some margin for error where the quarterback is concerned.
The Ravens are their biggest test so far; if they can win this game, I think it proves they can compete for the division.
Where is this Browns team strongest? Is it the defense, or are we missing something?
The defense. They didn't allow an opposing offense inside their 30-yard line until last week when they held the Titans to 94 total yards on offense.
What is your biggest concern about this Browns team?
Deshaun Watson. No doubt they need him to play well to be a real contender, and through the first two weeks, that didn't happen. We will determine if last week was an anomaly or if he can sustain that level of play.
Thank you Brad for your answers and sharing some Dawg intel with the Flock!