It’s an interesting Week 5 AFC North matchup on Sunday, October 7 between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH at 1:00 pm EST and broadcasted on CBS-TV.
The Ravens, who are 3-1 and tied for first place in their division with the Cincinnati Bengals, are coming off a Week 4 away win over another AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-14. Baltimore brings a top-ten offense and a top-4 defense to Cleveland to look for an easy win over a young Browns team that is having a hard time closing the deal this season.
The 1-2-1 Cleveland Browns haven’t lost at home this season, but they haven’t won there yet, either. Some football analysts (and most Browns fans) make the case that the Browns could be 4-0 right now if they’d started out with a different quarterback, a better kicker and the refs hadn’t overturned running back Carlos Hyde’s game ending first down run last week against the Raiders. Now with the ‘right’ quarterback and a new kicker, both rookies, Cleveland looks to defend their turf with their first hometown win.
If the Ravens win this game, they will stay tied atop the AFC South with Cincinnati or take the divisional lead, depending on how the Bengals do against the 3-1 Dolphins in Week 5. But if the Browns somehow win this one, it would make the battle for the AFC North a whole lot more interesting and the Browns’ predicted turnaround a whole lot more believable.
Who’s favored to win this Week 5 Ravens-Browns matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Ravens and the Browns and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Ravens offense top notch
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is having a great year. Finally. He’s completed 110 passes for 1,252 yards and 8 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions, which puts him 8th overall among NFL quarterbacks.
Some say it’s having two excellent backups – rookie Lamar Jackson and veteran Robert Griffin III – that has Flacco looking like the Super Bowl Winner he was. Whatever the cause, he’s hitting his targets 64.3 percent of the time and leading an offense that’s scoring 30.8 points per game, fifth best in the NFL.
It could also be that his main targets – receivers John Brown (15 catches for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Michael Crabtree (18 catches for 184 yards and a touchdown) – are also having terrific seasons.
It will also be interesting to see how Flacco gels with rookie tight end Hayden Hurst, the thus far injured (foot) first-round draft pick who says he’ll make his NFL debut on Sunday against the Browns.
The weakest part of the Ravens’ offense is its run game – ranked 23rd after only putting up 89.0 yards per game.
The 2018 Browns offense needs to be error free
After leading his team to their first win in almost two years in Week 3, Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is looking to close the deal again against the Ravens. He’ll have to take better care of the ball than he did against the Oakland Raiders in Week 4 when he had two interceptions and two fumbles in a hard-fought overtime loss.
One big way for Browns receivers to help Mayfield play better is to catch the balls he throws – the team has dropped 10 passes this season, tied for first in the league. It could be that Mayfield hasn’t taken a lot of snaps with the ones, or it could also be because he throws the football a heck of a lot harder than the Tyrod Taylor, the Browns started he replaced. Either way, Jarvis Landry, rookie Antonio Callaway and tight end David Njoku had best prepare their hands to catch Baker’s heat and do a lot better hanging on.
Cleveland’s run game is ranked 2nd in the league and it’s just getting started. Veteran Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson and rookie Nick Chubb have combined to run for 152.8 yards per game, and a big part of that is the Browns offensive line, led by left guard Joe Bitonio and left tackle Desmond Harrison.
Of course, the Ravens’ defense will have something to say about all of that.
Ravens Defense ranks 2nd, Browns D ranks 25th in the league
The Ravens are notorious for having one of the league’s top defenses, and this season is no exception. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (6 tackles) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (9 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 passes defended and a forced fumble) will challenge the Browns’ running game. They lead the fourth best run defense in the league, only allowing 82.5 rushing yards per game.
The Browns defensive squad isn’t ranked all that high, but some of their stats are. They’ve caught 7 interceptions (3rd), have sacked opponents 12.0 times (T-7th) and have combined for 297 tackles (3rd). They’ve just got to get better at preventing opponents from scoring – they give up an average of 26.0 points per game (19th).
Ravens’ D players to watch: Suggs, Williams and Second-team All-Pro C.J. Mosley (MLB)
Browns’ D players to watch: rookies Myles Garrett (DE) and Denzel Ward (CB)
Special teams stats
Baltimore’s punter, Sam Koch, is a 12-year veteran who has punted 16 times for a net average of 40.1 yards per punt, ranked 17th in the NFL.
Cleveland’s punter, Britton Colquitt, is in his third year and has punted 30 times for a net average of 35.9 yards per punt, ranked 30th in the league.
Baltimore’s veteran placekicker, Justin Tucker, has gone 9-for-10, his longest was a 55-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (12/12).
Cleveland’s front office hired rookie placekicker, Greg Joseph, after the Browns first kicker missed critical field goals and extra points in the first two games. So far, he’s 4-for-4, his longest was a 45-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (3/3).
Baltimore’s kick returner, Tim White, is ranked 29th in the league. He’s returned 6 kicks for 135 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 22.5 yards per return, his longest being 37 yards.
Cleveland’s kick returner, Jabrill Peppers, is ranked 33rd in the league. He’s returned 8 kicks for 170 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 21.3 yards per return, his longest being 28 yards.
Ravens-Browns prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Ravens favored over the Browns by 3 with an over/under of 45.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the ‘way under’ and has it Ravens 21, Browns 16
John Breech takes the ‘extreme over’ and predicts it Ravens 31, Browns 24