With the Baltimore Ravens divisional matchup on the road in just three days, the Cleveland Browns look for the upset. The Ravens have not been this vulnerable in a long time. Here are three important keys to the win column on Sunday.
Dawg Bone #1
Contain Ray Rice
Ray Rice is the oil that makes the engine run smooth in the Ravens offense. The Browns must prevent Rice from hitting home runs. In their home opener, the Cleveland rush defense held the Dolphins to just 20 yards rushing. The Fins didn’t have one of the best backs in the league though. Rice is versatile and still in his prime. He is coming off a loss and a game where he only rushed for 36 yards, but still found the end zone. And, he also had eight receptions for 35 yards. You can be certain, Rice will be hungry against Cleveland.
Dawg Bone #2
Cleveland Offensive Rhythm
In the NFLs opening Thursday night game, the Ravens allowed 49 points and gave up over 500 yards on defense. Can the Browns offense hang those kind of numbers on the purple-and-black? Most likely not. However, if Brandon Weeden can command the Cleveland huddle and have a precise game plan, the Ravens defense can be picked apart. In order to do this, the Browns must convert third downs. Having a 7% third down conversion like last week is unacceptable. If the Browns offense is going to get any momentum, rhythm, and score points, third down must be more efficient. Weeden needs to continue to look Jordan Cameron‘s way on Sunday.
Dawg Bone #3
Don’t fall Behind Late in the Game
The home of the 2012 NFL Champions is a hostile one. M&T Bank Stadium is a very intimidating place for any opponent. There is a psychological rivalry between these two teams. One, a very long time ago, used to be the Browns and the other is an idea of the former Browns with all the colors and history. The actual series record between the two teams is top-heavy towards the Ravens at 21-7. Falling behind late in this game will only make it harder than it already is. If Cleveland can keep it close and get one “momentum changer” later in the contest, this is a very winnable game.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Cleveland Browns Correspondent for The SportsFix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportfix.net.