The Ravens managed only 7 points last week against the porous Cincinnati defense that allowed the Browns to drop 51 points on them in Week 2. They have switched from Steve McNair to Kyle Boller due to "injury". Many insiders think it has more to do with McNair doing his best Charlie Frye impersonation as a 60 minute sack and turnover machine. They have a young, inexperience offensive line. They don't have a lot of explosive weapons on offense. They're defensive backfield is far less than healthy. Ray Ray Lewis and the boys have lost a step on D and the team is arguing internally. Despite that, the Ravens are still a dangerous team especially at home.
The Browns made some mistakes last week that haunted them. A bad challenge that resulted in a double time-out, shaky QB play, a crucial turnover and not coming up big when they had the chance to. The Ravens are not a good team but they are not a bad team either. Any one or, god forbid, combination of them will give the Ravens a chance at victory. They do posses a quality RB which always gives the Browns fits and they D, despite their age and injury, does still posses a number of play makers who can change the game if given the opportunity.
The Browns couldn't take the next step last week by beating an elite team on the road. That time will come. Now it's time to grow up and rebound from a heartbreaking loss to a rival by beating a rival that they are better than. The Browns have always matched-up well against the Ravens. They need to be aggressive and take chances like they did in the first half against the Steelers. They need to play with the tenacity that they displayed in the first Ravens game. And they need to do this on the road. The Browns have turned it around at home but now they need to beat teams they are better than on the road.
They don't need another Oakland game. That game has left them at 5-4 instead of 6-3. A huge difference. Another misstep will make their prospects for the first play-off birth since 2002 grim. They have seven games remaining against teams they are better then, but four are on the road. They are only 1-3 on the road. They need to finish at .500 or better away from home to have a shot at the playoffs. They are done playing the dredges of the league like Miami and St. Louis. They don't have juggernauts like New England or Pittspuke left on the schedule. They have 7 average, run of the mill teams that they are better than. It time to start to run the gauntlet towards the playoffs and the first stop is Baltimore.
This game will tell us as much about the Browns as the Pittspuke game did. They hung tough took some punches but faded at the end and couldn't seal the deal. They have a Balit-whore team teetering on the brink of implosion up next. The Browns have better talent. They have better schemes. They are better people. But the Browns have to believe it before they can do it. Can they bounce back and get back on track for something that seemed like a pipe dream at the beginning of the season? Browns fans want to believe they can but it only matters if the Browns themselves do.