Browns vs. Ravens Game Preview: Close Games In Past Years


The Ravens have not lost to the Cleveland Browns since Head Coach John Harbaugh arrived in Baltimore.

Heading into Thursday night's primetime matchup, the Ravens (2-1) are riding an eight-game winning streak over Cleveland (0-3), while the Browns haven't won a game since Nov. 20 last year.

Despite the discrepancy in recent success, the two teams have played a number of close games over the years and Head Coach John Harbaugh expects another one tonight at M&T Bank Stadium.

"We've played a lot of tough games against these guys," Harbaugh said. "We expect it to be another one of those kind of games."

The Browns came close to spoiling the Ravens' perfect home record in Week 16 last season, but Baltimore stopped a late rally to hold onto the 20-14 victory.  In 2010, the Browns rode running back Peyton Hillis to a fourth-quarter lead in Week 4 before the Ravens came-from-behind to get the 24-17 victory.

Those kinds of games have the Ravens ready for another test, especially after just three days of rest.

"We know what these guys bring; they're a tough, physical team," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "It will be a good challenge, especially on a short week."

3 Matchups To Watch

RB Trent Richardson vs. LB Ray Lewis
The rookie running back is Cleveland's most explosive weapon on offense, and this will be his first time going up against future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. Richardson referred to Lewis as "Uncle Ray," and said that he's looking forward to matching up against the great linebacker.

WR Torrey Smith vs. CB Dimitri PattersonThe Browns are without top cornerback Joe Haden, who is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and the Browns secondary has suffered in his absence. Smith is coming off an emotional game on Sunday after the tragic death of his younger brother, and he could be in store for another big primetime performance against Cleveland.

QB Brandon Weeden vs. S Ed ReedThe Browns' other first-round pick, 28-year old quarterback Brandon Weeden, is off to a typical rookie start through his first three NFL games. He's thrown six interceptions compared to three touchdowns, and now has to go up against Reed, who has 10 career interceptions against the Browns. Reed has more interceptions, interception return yards (356) and interceptions returned for touchdown (three) against the Browns than any other opponent.

3 Questions To Answer

Will the offense stay hot?
The Ravens offense is coming off their best performance of the season, where Flacco threw for 382 yards and running back Ray Rice picked up 150 total yards. If the Ravens can keep that kind of production going against the Browns, then they should have no problem picking up the victory.

Can the Ravens stop the run?
With Weeden entering a hostile environment – first primetime game and just second road contest – the Browns may try to pound the ball on the ground early in the game. The Ravens have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season, and limiting Richardson will force Weeden to beat them with his arm.

How does the secondary respond?
The Ravens secondary had its share of struggles against Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday, and they are looking for a much better showing on Thursday. Cornerback Cary Williams is hoping to rebound and the Ravens could also give former first-round pick Jimmy Smith a crack at the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Lardarius Webb. Whoever gets the nod, the want to do a better job of stopping the pass, as the Ravens currently rank 28th in the NFL against the pass.

2012 Rankings

Total Defense – 401.3 (27)
Rush Defense – 111.7 (18)
Pass Defense – 289.7 (28)
Points Allowed Per Game – 22.3 (15)

Total Offense – 419.3 (4)
Rush Offense – 118.0 (11)
Pass Offense – 301.3 (3)
Points Scored Per Game – 30.4 (2)

Total Defense – 391.7 (25)
Rush Defense – 122.7 (22t)
Pass Defense – 269.0 (27)
Points Allowed Per Game – 25.0 (18t)

Total Offense – 296.3 (26)
Rush Offense – 87.3 (26)
Pass Offense – 209.0 (23)
Points Scored Per Game – 19.0 (28)

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