Since there's no Buckeyes game to preview this weekend, I thought it would be fun to preview the Browns instead!
The Cleveland Browns come in to Sunday's division matchup against the Cleveland Browns...err...Baltimore Ravens with both teams owning a 1-1 record. To say that, after only 3 games, this match up is huge for both teams is an understatement.
The Browns could easily be 2-0 or, just as easily, be 0-2. The second half the Pittsburgh Steelers game gave hope to Browns fans that perhaps this was a different team than the ones of the past 7 years. They showed that perhaps they were with their stunning 26-24 victory over a very talented New Orleans Saints team. The Browns won with complicated defensive formations and a quarterback in Brian Hoyer who willed his team to victory with an 85 yard game winning drive, as Billy Cundiff hit his field goal with 3 seconds left in the game. It was an awe inspiring victory of perseverance and toughness on both sides of the ball for the Browns.
This weekend comes a new challenge; a Ravens team that is known for it's hard hitting, turnover producing style defense. Talented nose tackle Haloti Ngata and defensive end Terrell Suggs lead the defensive front while Jimmy Smith has emerged as a shutdown type cornerback in the first 2 games of the season. The Browns will need to run the ball with success as they start their rookie running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. They will both need to hold on to the ball as the Ravens have mastered the art of stripping the ball from opponents hands. Brian Hoyer will need to continue his play it safe role to keep the ball out of the hands of the defensive backs and linebackers. If Jordon Cameron does return this weekend, it will be a big help.
The Browns defensive line, led by Paul Kruger, can contain the less than spectacular running game of the Ravens, who are now without Ray Rice. They will also need to keep the blitz coming to contain Joe Flacco from finding Steve Smith, who has come on strong so far this year. Torrey Smith is also a down field weapon along with Dennis Pitta. who needs to be contained by Craig Robertson and/or Chris Kirksey. With Barkevious Mingo looking to return, the defensive line should be fresh throughout the game to keep the attacking defense coming.
My take: this is a winnable game for the Browns. But they need to keep playing mistake free football in order to win. If Hoyer can keep from throwing interceptions and the young running backs can keep their hands on the ball, I say the Browns can win by a touchdown. If the Ravens have their way on D, it's going to be a long day for the Browns defense.
Prediction: it will be a close, nail biting game until the end. Which ever team wins, it will be by a touchdown or less.