The (0-9) Cleveland Browns travel to Baltimore to take on the (4-4) Ravens on Thursday night football. Last week the Browns lost 35-10 to the Cowboys and it was their worst game of the year. The Ravens pulled out a 21-14 victory against the Steelers, in a game where it seemed like no one wanted to win. Cody Kessler is the quarterback this week, and will be the starter for the rest of the year.
This week could be a nightmare offensively for the Browns. They've struggled running the ball in recent weeks, the passing game has become extremely "dink & dunk", and the right side of the offensive line has been a revolving door. With all that being said the Ravens only give up 298 total yards per game, which ranks second in the NFL just behind the Arizona Cardinals.
The running game is going to be important this week. The Browns can't give up on it like last week against the Cowboys. Even if the Browns get down early they need to keep running the ball for a couple reasons. The first reason is to control the clock. Last week the Browns only had the ball for 20 mins. Also running the ball will hopefully open up the down field passing game which again has been lacking. Last but not least, running the ball will make third downs a lot more manageable.
The Browns defense struggles against the run and the Ravens struggle with running the ball...so something has to give. The Browns might not sell out on the run like in recent weeks, but they might be weary about it. No team has struggled to run the ball this year against the Browns, so the Ravens should try and run the ball which will open up down field passes with Joe Flacco.
But the main key defensively for the Browns is to stop the Ravens on third down. It seems like this team has regressed in that area in recent weeks. If the Browns can stay off the field and get to the quarterback they have a great shot to end their nine game losing streak.
Carl Nassib: Nassib seemed to have hit the rookie wall, which was expected. But it will be good to see how he plays though it. Also Nassib is extremely important in the pass rush and will need at least one sack for the Browns to stay in this game.
Joe Haden: Earlier this year Haden had two picks against the Ravens. Joe is going to have to ball out and prevent the shots down field. Whether he is working against Steve Smith Sr or Mike Wallace.
Isaiah Crowell: The Browns need to restart the running game, and it starts with Crowell. Duke Johnson might be important in the passing game but Crowell's ability to break tackles and hit the holes hard will keep defenses honest and open up play calling for Kessler and Jackson.
Cam Erving: Erving needs to "put up or shut up" if he doesn't show any improvement, the Browns might move him to right tackle. Erving is will be an important part of the running game success. If Erving doesn't play well the Browns will become a "one trick pony".
Betting Line: Baltimore -10
Prediction: Browns 28 - Ravens 24
Yes, I am predicting a Browns victory. It might be the last time I pick them to win a game, but this might be their best chance. The Ravens are coming off of a tough game against the Steelers and the Browns might catch them napping. Kessler will play aggressive which will open up the running game again, and the Browns seem to play well during prime time.