The Ravens are looking to rebound from a Week 1 rout in Denver by beating their AFC rivals, the Cleveland Browns.
Baltimore has won its last 10 games against the Browns, but will face a very different team Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Cleveland has undergone a coaching staff overhaul, and they have brought in more aggressive schemes. The Browns also spent a lot of money in free agency, including grabbing former Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger.
The Ravens are hungry to prove that they're better than they showed in Week 1. The defense is looking to prove it will be the more physical bunch. The offense wants to get the ground game going after a subpar start.
Even though the series record is lopsided, the Browns have kept games close in recent years and the Ravens know they'll have their hands full.
Matchups To Watch
S Michael Huff vs. TE Jordan Cameron
The Ravens, and particularly Huff, had a tough time with Denver's 6-foot-5 tight end Julius Thomas in Week 1. Huff failed to bring him down for a tackle, leading to a long completion, then gave up a touchdown to Thomas on the next play. Cleveland's Cameron is the same size as Thomas and has receiver skills. Baltimore has a history dating back to late last year of troubles with opposing tight ends.
LB Daryl Smith vs. RB Trent Richardson
The Browns offense largely rides on the shoulders of Richardson, the second year former Alabama standout. Richardson only had 13 carries for 47 yards in the Browns' opener, but Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said he needs 20 carries going forward. The key to stopping the bruising 225-pound Richardson is not allowing 3-yard carries to turn in 6- or 7-yard rumbles. Smith will be responsible for making a lot of those stops.
OLB Elvis Dumervil vs. RT Michell Schwartz
The Browns surrendered six sacks and 16 quarterback hits in Week 1. A lot of the Miami Dolphins' pressure came from the right side. That's where Dumervil will be bringing the heat, and he has a good track record against the Browns. Dumervil has a whopping nine sacks in four career games against the Browns. It's tied for the most sacks he has against a single opponent (Oakland).
Keys To The Game
Turnovers … for both sides
Joe Flacco has been throwing interceptions at a concerning rate this seasonand preseason. He had four in three exhibition games and tossed two in Denver. The Ravens are favored to win at home, but turning the ball over would be a recipe for an upset loss. Meanwhile, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions in Week 1, and the Ravens defense wants to capitalize.
Get the run game going
Baltimore's running backs rushed for just 58 yards in the regular-season opener. They carried the ball just 21 times as Flacco had a career-high in passing attempts. The Ravens want more balance against the Browns, and would better be able to achieve that if the running game is effective this time. The Browns held Miami to just 20 rushing yards on 23 attempts in Week 1, so it won't be easy.
Shake off the loss
The Ravens were humbled in Denver. They came in feeling disrespected, and got more of it when they left. Head Coach John Harbaugh talked about his team being angry, yet moving onfrom the loss in Week 1. It will be key for the Ravens not to start pressing if things don't start out well Sunday afternoon. It's a long game and a long season, and frustrations can be problematic.