So the hated Baltimore Ravens come to town Sunday and I don’t think anyone in Northeast Ohio knows what to expect. Which Derek Anderson will show up? Will Kellen Winslow play? How many times will Eric Wright get okie-doked? Can anyone on the defense make a tackle? Many questions exist and the Browns do have some things going for them but others… not so much.
Of all the teams in the AFC North, the Browns match-up best with the Ravens. The Ravens do not run a complex down the field passing attack like the Bengals of Steelers. They have more of a possession type passing game with the focus on Todd Heap and Derrick Mason underneath. Steve McNair and Kyle Boller are no where near Carson Palmer and Big Dumb Roethlisbozo. Willis McGahee will present some problems but that is for later. All that being said, one thing everyone does know is that the aforementioned Mr. Wright will be tested early and often. On D the Ravens do run the 3-4 but they do not have as confusing a blitz package as the Steelers.
The Ravens have a young and injured O-Line. Jonathan Ogden may or may not play but is not the player he once was. I expect Wimbley and hopefully Peek and Thompson to make some plays.
The Josh Cribbs factor. This is the most exiting part of the week leading up to the game. What way will Chud use Cribbs this week? Will it be another reverse? Direct snap? Is he going to throw one this week? Statue of Liberty? Gladiator movies? Who knows? That’s the beauty of it, no one knows and the possibilities are endless. Add it the fact that he could take a kick or punt back to the house at any time and in this game that could be monumental.
Willis McGahee may not be LT, LJ, Boys II Men, ABC or BBD but he is still pretty good. Throw in the fact that the Browns are 3/3 on allowing 100 yard rushers and the math in not good.
The Ravens LBs are among the best in the biz. Joe Thomas and the HPC will be tested this week. Ray Lewis may have lost a step but he is still a leader and a force. Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott have picked up the slack after the departure of Audalius Thomas. Haloti Ngata ties up blockers like we wish Ted Washington could and let these guys run amuck.
Ed Reed owns the Browns. Don’t know why but he just makes plays against them. And with DA being DA expect Mr. Reed to be around the ball a lot.
Winslow is hurt. This is not huge for single WR set as Steve Heiden is more than capable but it hurts if you want to split out Kellen wide as a 3rd WR and use Heiden as the TE. If he can’t go that put Tim Carter or Travis Wilson on the spot and that is not a good proposition. Cribbs will get some work are 3rd WR but they don’t; want to tire him out and lose his explosiveness on Special Teams.
The Browns have a shot and despite the problems on defense I expect it to be a low scoring game. If they can stay in the game early and ride a vengeful Jamal Lewis for 25+ carries, they may be able to pull this one out. If they get down early and have to throw every down, look out. No one expects them to win after losing to Oakland but then again no one expected them to win after being trounced by Pittsburgh.
On a side note I would like to wish ill will on Matt Stover. Why? Because I am tired of hearing the references that he is the “last remaining member of the original Cleveland Browns.” It’s been over 10 years. Let it go, Dick Enberg, who says it before every Stover FG attempt. I don’t think Cleveland cares anymore about Matt Stover we just care about beating Baltimore.
As a good friend once said, “Falcons are birds that are notorious for being late.” To which I replied, “Ravens are birds that are notorious for being…” Well, let’s just say, open to non-standard sexual practices.