Monday Night Football Preview: Ravens at Browns
Monday night the Browns welcome the Baltimore Ravens to FirstEnergy Stadium looking for revenge after a week 1 thrashing saw the Ravens win 38-6. The Browns had turnover issues in the first matchup with both running backs coughing the ball up and Baker Mayfield throwing a costly interception. Lamar Jackson had one of his best games this season throwing for 3 touchdowns, nearly 300 yards passing and rushing for another 75 yards. Although, a lot has changed for these teams since the week 1 matchup. The Browns come into the game winning 4 straight and now hold the 6th best rushing attack in the NFL led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The backs have combined for over 1,500 yards this season and have relieved the pressure off of a turnover prone Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has only thrown for 6 touchdowns in the last 5 games but more importantly he has not thrown an interception over the same stretch. Last week the Browns recorded their most impressive win on the season by beating the Tennessee Titans 41-35. The Browns dominated the Titans from the first whistle of the game and more impressively held the NFL rushing leader, Derrick Henry, to 60 yards on 15 carries. Baker Mayfield was deadly on the play-action throwing for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Browns success has been predictable, they win if they can run the football and allow Mayfield to use the play-action and get out of the pocket. The Ravens defense has shown to be vulnerable this season at times. The Ravens D is allowing over 110 yards per game this season on the ground and have struggled to get pressure on the QB, but they are expecting for the first time in months to have a fully healthy defensive line, including run stuffer Calais Campbell. The Ravens offense is also starting to get healthy after weeks of positive COVID-19 tests. Last week the Ravens embarrassed the Cowboys by running for nearly 300 yards in a 34-17 win. J.K. Dobbins has emerged as a difference maker for the Ravens in his first season from Ohio State(The Ohio State), he has paired well with a recently returned Mark Ingram. Lamar Jackson should feel more comfortable passing the football in his second week back with WR Willie Snead being activated off the COVID list as well as favorite target, TE Mark Andrews.
I expect tonight to be a very close game that will have a tough AFC North playoff feel. I know its the obvious and most overused saying, but whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game. I trust the Ravens defense more in these situations, especially with the browns missing starting CB Denzel Ward. Baker Mayfield has struggled his entire career with route jumping cornerbacks like Marcus Peters , and Marlon Humphrey has shown to be one of the best at forcing fumbles since former Bears great CB Charles Tillman. I believe the Ravens pick off Baker Mayfield twice and force a fumble.
No matter what, this game is going to be one of best MNF matchups of the season and has huge implications in the AFC playoff picture. A win for the Ravens would put them into the 7th and final AFC wild card spot, while a win for the Browns would just about guarantee them a playoff spot for the first time since the 2002 season. I think the Ravens control the ball and the game escaping with a victory. Ravens 27-17