Ravens Try To Stay Top Of Pecking Order

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au
Joe Flacco has an unblemished record against the Browns. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

On paper, this is a mismatch of epic proportions. Baltimore is the AFC North titleholder, a perennial playoff team chock-full of Pro Bowlers, and the holder of an intimidating home record where they’ve won their past 12 starts.

The Cleveland Browns on the other hand are one of only two teams in the NFL yet to record a win this season, have a 28-year-old rookie quarterback who had one of the worst debuts in living memory, and going back to last season they’ve now lost their past nine games.

But there is plenty of underlying emotion in all Ravens v Browns contests, which goes back to former Cleveland owner Art Modell’s decision to uproot the franchise to Baltimore in the mid-90s. As bad as the Browns have been in recent seasons, they’ve been competitive against the high-flying Ravens with three of the last four encounters being decided by less than 10 points, which suggests Cleveland could cover the line with a +13 start.

The Browns have a blue-chip running back prospect on their hands in rookie Trent Richardson . Against the Bengals in Week 2, he became the first Browns rookie to ever rush for over 100 yards, as well as score rushing and receiving touchdowns all in the one game. Fellow first-year player, QB Brandon Weeden , has improved after a disastrous opening week performance against Philadelphia, but whether he and his offence can fire against the likes of future Hall-of-Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed is another story.

The Ravens have won the past eight against the Browns, and starting QB Joe Flacco has never lost a game to Cleveland. There could be some value in taking the under option on the total game score – only once in those eight matches has the total score been over 43.5, and that was back in 2008. Ravens running back Ray Rice is a definite first touchdown scorer option, having dominated the Browns to the tune of 118.5 rushing yards per game across his career.

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