Friday, September 16, 2016

Browns Preview 9.16.16: Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The (0-1) Cleveland Browns hosts the (1-0) Baltimore Ravens in this week two matchup. The Browns lost in week one 29-10 against the Philadelphia Eagles and lost their starting quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Ravens on the other hand won against the Buffalo Bills 13-7. The Browns will be starting Josh McCown at quarterback. Last year McCown threw for 669 yards and three touchdowns in two games last year against the Ravens.

Browns Offense vs Ravens Defense

Baltimore's defense last week completely shut down the Bills offense, only allowing 160 total yards on 48 plays. The Browns have some work to do offensively since they only had 288 total yards and their time of possession was only 20:40 compared to the Eagles' 39:20. But there is some hope with Josh McCown under center. Like stated earlier Josh McCown put up some great stats last year against the Ravens. Also, with Josh McCown starting that means Gary Barnidge will get a lot more targets than the two he had last week. Barnidge was one of McCown's favorite targets last year, being thrown to 22% of the time and also catching six touchdown passes from him.

The running game with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson will be extremely important. Its important because the Browns need to keep Josh McCown upright. The backup quarterback is Cody Kessler and he is not ready to play in the NFL yet. Having a consistent running game throughout the game will keep the Ravens' defense honest and prevent them from dropping everyone into coverage or blitzing as much. Last week the Ravens only gave up 2.7 yards per rushing attempt so the Browns will have some work to do. But they can't give up on the run like they did vs the Eagles.

The most important thing the Browns can do offensively is convert on third down. The Browns went 2/10 on third down and 0/2 on fourth down. Increasing the conversion percentage will also increase the time of possession.

Browns Defense vs Ravens' Offense

The Browns struggled last week giving up 403 total yards last week. Their main problem was not forcing any turnovers against the rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. But the young guys like Carl Nassib, Demario Davis, and Emmanual Ogbah played really well. The Browns struggled in the secondary. Joe Haden and Tramon Williams didn't play well. And against the Ravens' offense they need to have a big game. The Browns must prevent Joe Flacco from throwing the ball deep down field to either Mike Wallace, Steve Smith Sr, or Kamar Aiken. Last week Flacco threw for 258 yards and a touchdown which was a 66 yard bomb to Mike Wallace. Flacco was sacked four times last week so the Browns will be able to get to him, but its extremely important to prevent the deep ball.

The Ravens averaged 3 yards per rushing attempt last week. Justin Forsett and Terrance West slit the majority of the carries, Forsett having 10/41 and West having 12/32. Compared to last week the Browns gave up 133 yards on 34 attempts and a touchdown. The Browns need to keep both these running backs at bay and force Joe Flacco to live up to his "Elite" status.

Last but not least, for the Browns to win they need to force a turnover or two so the offense can have a shorter field. Flacco is prone to throwing picks at times so its key for the Browns to bait him into some aggressive throws.

Five Guys to Watch

Jordan Poyer: Poyer is the starting free safety for this defense and will be the last line of defense when the Ravens try to throw the deep ball down field. Poyer might have a few opportunities to pick off Flacco. If Poyer can do his job it will shorten the field for Flacco and the Ravens which could result in the ability to blitz a lot more than last week.

Cam Erving: Erving had a rough week against the Eagles. He had an terrible snap the resulted in safety and a nine point swing. Erving will be matched up against Brandon Williams a former third round pick in the 2013 draft. If Erving can have a bounce back game and make sure Josh McCown can stay upright it will be considered a successful game for Erving. Yes, its the little things to help build this young guys confidences.

Josh McCown: McCown is taking over for injured quarterback Robert Griffin III. If McCown can do what he did last year against the Ravens and not have any dumb throws like he is prone to have the Browns will stay in this game.

Gary Barnidge: For obvious reasons Barnidge is going to get a lot of targets this week against the Ravens. I don't expect him to only have two targets like he did last week. If the Browns want to improve on their third down conversion percentage,  Barnidge is going to have to be the main target for McCown.  

Carl Nassib: Nassib showed an ability to get into the backfield. And last week went up against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If Nassib can repeat what he last week he should help the Browns force Flacco into a turnover.

Betting Line: Browns (+6.5)


The Browns will fall to (0-2). The Browns' secondary isn't that good so I don't expect them to be able to stop Joe Flacco and company. They will need to prove to me that they can "lock down the lake" before I pick them in anymore game.  Now the offense will play fine, but its really hard to imagine Josh McCown having a 350+ yard passing game which is the type of game the Browns will need to stay in this game.

BOOOO Ravens Win... 35-24.

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