Game Preview: Win And They're In

a47a8db4613b4452ae7f2994cfdd946e.jpg


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

The Ravens know what it's like to be in a must-win situation.

The past two seasons they've had to win their final regular season game to reach the playoffs.

Baltimore would like to avoid some of that pressure as it heads to Cleveland this Sunday.

The Ravens can clinch their franchise-best third straight postseason berth by simply carving out a win against the Browns – no tiebreakers, no scoreboard watching needed.

"That's right there in your hands and it's very tangible," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's a lot of motivation."

Last year, Baltimore could have stamped its ticket in Week 16 but lost in Pittsburgh, setting up an all-or-nothing contest in Oakland. In 2008, they had to beat Jacksonville at home to get in.

With 10 wins the Ravens have a two-game lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card race. If Baltimore lost both of its final two games and their foes won theirs, it would come down to tiebreakers.

"We've got to get it done this week," fullbackLe'Ron McClain said. "Who wants to go into the last week of the season wondering if this is your last game or if you're in the playoffs? When it's put in front of you, handle it then."

"This team has been through so much, and we fought so many hard-fought, close games at some hard opposing stadiums," linebacker Ray Lewis added. "For us to be able to go into Cleveland right now and clinch a playoff berth, and as healthy as we are right now, I think it's an exciting time for us."

The Ravens have dominated the recent series between the two AFC North rivals. Baltimore has never lost to Cleveland during the Harbaugh era, a span of five straight games, and won those games by an average of more than 16 points.

Their Week 3 meeting, however, was the closest of the stretch. Cleveland had a fourth-quarter lead but the Ravens rallied to win, 24-17.

The Browns (5-9) have long been out of the playoff chase and have lost their past two games to the last-place teams in the AFC East and AFC North, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

But Cleveland is in the unique position of greatly affecting who will be the AFC North champion. The Ravens and Steelers both have road games in Cleveland left to play.

Thus, linebacker Jarret Johnson said he's on spoiler alert.

"That's their motivation," Johnson said. "They're out of it, but they're a prideful team. They've got a lot to prove and they're not just going to lie down. They're trying to knock us out."

THREE THINGS FOR A RAVENS WIN

Stop Hillis: This could be points No. 1, 2 and 3. Cleveland's offense revolves around the beefy running back and he is a major reason why the Browns played with Baltimore in Week 3. If the Ravens can get the north-south runner moving sideways they'll have a much easier day. Baltimore's linebackers also must keep an eye on him coming out of the backfield.

Get After Colt: Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is having a fine rookie season, posting a 93.0 quarterback rating. But he's still a rookie and thus Baltimore will look to continue the pressure it showed in New Orleans and rattle his cage. The Ravens haven't faced a rookie signal-caller since 2007 but are 4-0 against quarterbacks with three years or less experience under Harbaugh.

*Stay Physical Up-Front: *Baltimore got back to its physical style of football against the Saints. The Ravens must continue with that mentality in Cleveland, where the weather conditions won't be pass-friendly and while facing an improved Browns secondary. The Ravens didn't see nose tackle Shaun Rogers in their first meeting. The 350-pounder will be a handful if he plays through ankle and hip injuries.

Tale of the Tape

Ravens                          Category                           Browns

10-4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2010 Record . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5-9

Won 2. . . . . . . . . . . . Current Streak . . . . . . . . . . . .Lost 2

  1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Scored . . . . . . . . . . . . .252

  1. . . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . . . . .27

  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .13

  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .11

  1. . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns on Returns . . . . . . . . . .3

253 . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Against . . . . . . . . . . . . .271

  1. . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . . . . .29

  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .5

  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .21

  1. . . . . . . . . . . TDs Allowed by Return . . . . . . . . . . .3

31:00. . . . . . . . . . . Time of Posession Avg.. . . . . . . . . . .27:59

+1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turnover Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .+5

48.9%. . . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. For . . . . . . . . .46.2%

45.7%. . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. Against . . . . . . .43.9%

24.8. . . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.4

26.4. . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . .17.5

7.8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.9

7.5. . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . . .7.8

2010 Season Rankings

Ravens

Browns

Category

Stats

Rank

Stats

Rank

Total Offense

336.4

18

295

29

Rush Offense

112.3

16

107.2

18

Pass Offense

224.1

15

187.8

28

Points/Game

23.1

12

18

28

Total Defense

316.2

10

351.8

22

Rush Defense

93.6

5

129.2

25

Pass Defense

222.6

15t

222.6

15(t)

Points/Game

18.1

4

19.4

10

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising