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The Baltimore Raven have been winning every close game this season, but last week they could not get the job done over the Steelers, a critical divisional loss that no doubt hurt on all levels, and now QB Lamar Jackson’s Ravens and their banged up secondary are no longer the top team in the AFC as they face another AFC North rival who has had 2 weeks to game plan.
A seriously injured Cleveland Browns lost to the Ravens in Week 12, but they have had a bye week since then with time to lick their many wounds, and now if the rested QB Baker Mayfield can somehow figure out what happened to his passing attack then he with one of the NFL’s best rushing tandem – Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt – can help earn this important divisional win.
These two AFC North rivals have played each other 45 prior times, with the Cleveland Browns winning 11 of those games and the Baltimore Ravens winning 34 of the games.
In Week 12, the Baltimore Ravens did a terrific job packing the box and stopping the Browns rushing attack while forcing them to win with their passing game, something that in the end an injured and tired Baker Mayfield could not get done.
Now the Ravens must do that again but this time with a healed up and rested Mayfield no doubt with an updated passing attack that was revamped over the team’s bye, a break that gave them a moment to recover from the loss of their deep threat Odell Beckham Jr. weeks ago.
Now Baltimore’s secondary is hurting, with a half dozen of their cornerbacks and two safeties either out or questionable to play on Sunday, so expect Mayfield to attack that weakness with Ravens’ DC Don Martindale forced to game plan with a next man up mentality.
The Cleveland Browns have been hit with injuries to Baker Mayfield (shoulder, knee, ankles), but they also lost their deep threat receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., who left the team weeks ago unhappy with the level of production he’d achieved, leaving them with a gaping offensive hole.
Opposing teams figured out that the Browns could no longer hurt them deep so they began loading up the box and neutralizing their run threat, and that one dimensional aspect to OC Alex Van Pelt’s offense was easy to defeat over the course of a game.
Now WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie Anthony Schwartz will act as the Browns deep threat and hopefully with a few big plays begin to train defenses to spread out more, and that should also free up the run game to work again with play action fakes more effective, as well.
Arguably one of the best athletes in the NFL is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, a quick and nasty runner who breaks ankles with his moves plus an effective pass thrower who has proven he can make tough throws anywhere on the field.
As long as Jackson has the ball, there is a good chance a first down will be gained, this season having carried the ball 131 times out of the backfield for 762 yards and 2 touchdowns, his ability to make opponents miss and look foolish doing it now a part of his reputation in the league.
Add to that production Jackson’s passing numbers – 242 completions for 2,865 yards and 16 touchdowns with 13 picks – and his player value becomes even clearer, so watch for him to make or break this game, the Ravens team generally doing as well as he does.
One of the major factors on the Browns defense that Ravens OC Greg Roman will have to consider is pass rushing DE Myles Garrett, a force of nature with an ever-running engine who seems to defy gravity working around offensive lineman on his way to the quarterback.
This season, Garrett has put up some impressive numbers despite his team’s .500 play, so far with 14 sacks and 28 quarterback hits, plus 3 passes defended and 42 total tackles with 15 of those for a loss, production that puts his name in the defensive MVP conversation.
The rest Garrett got over this bye week will no doubt help energize him for the final five games of the season, the 6’ 4” 272 pound mound of muscle with the agility to lead this defense past a Ravens team that has allowed Jackson to be sacked a league-leading 37 times.
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|Ravens vs Browns Information
|Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
|FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH
|Sunday, December 12, 2021; 1:00 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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