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Game Preview: Ravens vs. Browns

Posted Nov 2, 2013

Everything you need to know about the matchup, including keys to the game and an opponent breakdown.

A few streaks will be tested Sunday in Cleveland.

The Ravens have won an NFL-leading 11 straight games against the Browns. Baltimore hasn’t lost after its bye under Head Coach John Harbaugh, a run of five years. The Ravens are looking to snap a two-game skid.

On paper, history says the Ravens (3-4) have the advantage. But they know they’ll get a tough test from their AFC North rival Browns (3-5).

“Every time we play them, it’s a tough game, it’s a physical game,” Harbaugh said. “It’s always a fight right down to the finish, so we know it will be that kind of game again.”

The Ravens can move to within 1.5 games of the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals with a win.

Matchups To Watch

CB Lardarius Webb vs. WR Josh Gordon
Gordon trails only the Ravens’ Torrey Smith in average yards per catch in the NFL. Smith is at 20.3 and Gordon is at 18.2. The Ravens didn’t have to face the big-play threat in their first matchup, and he changes how Baltimore’s secondary will have to play. Webb did a nice job against Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh, but allowed a long touchdown to Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson the week before.

FS Matt Elam vs. TE Jordan Cameron
Elam will keep an eye on Gordon, but he can’t lose track of the Browns’ other big-play threat. Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees called Jordan Cameron one of the best tight ends in the NFL. The 6-foot-5 former basketball standout got behind Elam to catch a 53-yard bomb on the Browns’ first play from scrimmage in their Week 2 matchup.

RB Ray Rice vs. NT Phil Taylor
This matchup got chippy last time as Rice and Taylor were jawing and the Browns nose tackle slapped Rice in the side of the head, then accused him of spitting. Both players said the incident is behind them now, but that could change once the game is on again. Taylor can be a disruptive force in the middle and Rice needs to make him miss.

Keys To The Game

Stop the Browns’ running game
The Ravens’ undoing in their past two losses has been on run defense. They allowed 140 rushing yards to the Packers and Steelers, who each didn’t come into the game touting strong running attacks. The Browns similarly aren’t expected to be a ground-and-pound team. But former Raven Willis McGahee can still tote the rock. The Ravens can’t let him pick up solid gains, especially on early downs, or it will open up the Browns’ deep passing game.

Get Torrey the ball
A week ago, Torrey Smith led the NFL in receiving yards. But after his past two games in which he notched a combined four catches for 73 yards, Smith has fallen out of the lead. One thing the passing offense has yet to hit on much this year is the deep passing game. Smith is the Ravens’ best weapon in that area, and he and quarterback Joe Flacco need to hit on a chunk play or two.

A helping of Rice
Ray Rice has yet to notch a 100-yard game this season, but he has averaged more than 127 rushing yards per game in his five trips to Cleveland. In order for the Ravens to have success in the second half of the season, they have to get more from their running game. They’d like to get that started against the Browns, who have a sixth-ranked pass defense and 12th-ranked run defense. Baltimore could opt to attack on the ground.

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