CLEVELAND- Tomorrow night, the Browns battle the Ravens in front of the national audience. This is unfamiliar terrain for the Browns as they rarely get primetime games at all. However, this game will not drum up the usual nostalgia that Monday night games have at this time of the season. Johnny Manziel was demoted after he was seen partying. A video was released showing Manziel at a party during the bye week.
The Browns have a few things they can salvage at this point. This is a must win game for Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine. The last thing the Browns want to do is tear down then rebuild their leadership. It’s a hard enough to face the prospect of replacing General Manager Ray Farmer after text gate and two drafts that didn’t produce desired results. Farmer never really made the slam dunk picks like drafting Sammy Watkins and Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns had both receivers in their back pockets. If Farmer could go back in time, it would seem all too obvious Beckham Jr would be a Cleveland Brown.
Normally, football fans want to see November end with two teams battling for playoff position. However, both teams are facing the bitter end of being in the cellar of the AFC North at the end of the season. The Browns and Ravens don’t seem to have much to gain from winning this game.
This is Josh McCown’s opportunity to prove he can win on the big stage. Granted, this is not the big stage that comes with playoff implications but it’s important to have a little more glimmer toward the end of his career. McCown also has the chance to be virtually unchallenged for the starting quarterback role next year by winning this game.
The Browns are expected to draft a quarterback in the next draft. However, McCown can solidify his position on the roster by leading the team to a win over one of the hated rivals.
Keys to Browns win
McCown needs to pass the ball a lot. He can throw for 300+ yards a game. He did it several times this season. The Browns are still having a tough time cashing in on scoring opportunities. If the Browns get plenty of red zone chances, they must be consistent and rack up the touchdowns. If Cleveland settles for field goals early on, the Ravens are sure to make them pay for it.
The play calling needs to be aggressive. The Browns can’t be afraid to take some chances down the field to Travis Benjamin.
Gary Barnidge can devastate defenses in the intermediate passing game particularly in the middle of the field. He is McCown’s favorite target so Barnidge could be the leading receiver in this game.
Isaiah Crowell needs some help in the running game. The offensive line needs to drastically improve their run blocking as it has been inconsistent this season. The pass blocking was amazing at times this year but the Browns need to give Crowell, Robert Turbin, and Duke Johnson some running room.
Ravens: 24 Browns: 21
McCown will throw f or 315 yards and three touchdowns but the defense will collapse again.