It’s time for our weekly segment of Buy or Sell brought to you by Glen Burnie Motorsports. Each week, we pick three topics and let you know if we’re agreeing (buying) or disagreeing (selling) with the statement. Then, you vote and tell us what you think.
The run defense will shut down the Browns’ ground attack
The Ravens defense comes into this game ranked 20th against the run, allowing 3.8 yards per carry and 104.3 yards per game. However, against Pittsburgh two weeks ago, the Steelers gashed them on the ground, picking up 141 yards on just 29 attempts (a hefty 4.9 ypc average).
Ozzie Newsome and company invested a lot of money this offseason on improving the defense, and those kinds of results are certainly not what they had in mind. Veteran Marcus Spears was cut this week after offering little in the way of production, and replacing him will be Terrence Cody, returning from a knee injury suffered in Week 3 against Houston. Cody played well at the beginning of the year. DeAngelo Tyson could also get some playing time in the defensive line rotation.
So will they get it together against former Raven Willis McGahee and the Browns’ 26th-ranked run game?
BUY: 2013 McGahee is no Le’Veon Bell, so that helps right away. He’s averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on 79 attempts (hey, are we sure he’s not still a Raven?). However, the Browns’ passing attack is not to be taken lightly. Jason Campbell threw for 293 yards against the stout Kansas City defense last week, while completing over 60% of his passes. The Browns have weapons in the passing game, including tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Josh Gordon. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner isn’t afraid to air it out, and he’ll be even more confident this week after seeing the positive results from Campbell and his targets a week ago.
That said, the Ravens won’t be able to stack the box. They’ll have to rely on their front seven to stop the run and set up favorable down and distance situations. The bet here is that they’ll be up to the task.
The offense will regain their championship form
Beginning in Week 16 of 2012 (and excluding the Week 17 game against Cincinnati that didn’t matter), the Ravens scored 33, 24, 38, 28, and 34 points in their run through winning Super Bowl XLVII.
Here in 2013, it’s been quite a different story. They’ve scored more than 20 points just three times in seven games, and in one of those games (Houston) the defense and special teams combined for 14 of the points. The offense hasn’t scored three touchdowns in a game since Week 1 in Denver.
So will they get it together in Cleveland?
SELL: The Browns, for all their faults through the years, have at least gotten one thing right – building an AFC North-caliber defense. They allow just 320.4 yards per game, seventh-best in the NFL, and are tied for third in the league with 26 sacks. The Ravens offense might right the ship enough to make a run…but they won’t be lighting up the scoreboard in Cleveland.
Harbaugh and Flacco will remain perfect against the Browns
John Harbaugh’s teams have never lost following a bye week, going 5-0 in such games during the regular season since his arrival in 2008. That streak will be on the line Sunday, as will the Ravens’ 11-game winning streak against Cleveland, the longest current stretch of dominance in the NFL by one team against another.
So can they run it to 6-0 after a bye and 12-0 against the Browns?
BUY: But barely. Though only two current Browns (left tackle Joe Thomas and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson) were on the roster the last time they beat the Ravens, you can be sure that the players understand the streak, and want it to end. They also know that their fans likely hate Baltimore more than any other team (especially after the Ravens just won their second Super Bowl). They’ll be hungry to go into their own bye week with a victory.
However, it won’t be enough. The Ravens are rested, they’ve been put on notice after the cuts of several veterans, and they’ve had two weeks to put together a game plan. They know their season is on the line, and they’ll find a way to get it done.
Ravens 23 Browns 17
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