Purple Birds Invade the Dawg Pound photo: Baltimore Ravens

Bold Predictions Purple Birds Invade the Dawg Pound

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What will we see when the Ravens head to Cleveland to take on the new-look Browns and rookie QB Baker Mayfield?

RSR staff give our predictions here…

Tony Lombardi

The Browns could very easily be 3-1, but because they haven’t learned how to win, they sit at 1-2-1. Don’t be deceived by that. There’s an energy about the Browns and the driving force behind it isn’t FirstEnergy Stadium. It’s Baker Mayfield. The rookie QB and Heisman Trophy toter has the look of a winner and he’ll be a thorn in the collective side of the AFC North for years to come. But not on Sunday.

Joe Flacco is 17-2 lifetime against the Browns with 27 TDs v. 12 INTs and a passer rating of 90.5. He’ll trump those totals this weekend, finishing with a 105+ passer rating. He’ll toss two scores.

Alex Collins gets a get-out-of-the-doghouse free card and takes full advantage, breaking 100 yards for the first time in 2018. He will set up a short TD run by Buck Allen. John Brown is once again the leading receiver in the game, yardage wise. He chips in with 125 yards and a score.

Myles Garrett gets through for 2 sacks as he makes James Hurst look like a crash-test dummy. One sack will force a fumble in Ravens territory, recovered by the Browns. Not to worry, the Browns fail to cash in and miss a field goal attempt.

— Baker Mayfield throws for 275 yards but the numbers accumulate in catch up mode. The heralded rookie is picked twice, once following a tip by Brent Urban that is corralled by C.J. Mosley. Mayfield’s only score is to David Njoku who is wide open in the end zone, thanks in part to the Ravens having only 10 men on the field.

Nick Chubb creates problems for the Ravens before halftime with 50 yards on 4 carries but Wink Martindale once again successfully adjusts at intermission. Chubb finishes with 57 yards on 8 carries.

Offensive Player of the Game: Joe Flacco

Defensive Player of the Game: Eric Weddle

FINAL SCORE: Ravens 27, Browns 16

Todd Karpovich

— Baker Mayfield said he has not had his “Welcome to the NFL” moment. He will on Sunday when he faces a Ravens aggressive pass rush and talented secondary with Jimmy Smith. Ravens are looking +2 turnovers.

— Joe Flacco, on the other hand, will show his experience and effectively manage the game.

— Browns running back Carlos Hyde is ranked sixth in the NFL with 285 yards and has a league-high five touchdowns. He will struggle for yards like James Conner last week.

— The Ravens pick up another key road win, 27-24. However, the Bengals will beat Miami to keep pace in the AFC North.

Baker  Mayfield throws.

Sep 30, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) prepares to throw a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Jackson

The recent Sunday night performance at Heinz Field has changed the tune of the national media. The Ravens are consistently in the top 10 of the various power rankings kicking across the interwebs and I’ve even seen them inside the top 5. What is the result of this attention? An obvious trap game, of course.

On the road, against a divisional opponent, coming off an emotional win, all signs point to a letdown. However, there’s a different vibe with this team that I’m seeing. I think they’re going to come out hungry.

On offense, the interesting thing to watch is the backfield snaps. I’m predicting De’lance Turner to break off a big run and get people talking about him, and I’m predicting that Buck Allen out-touches Alex Collins. The receivers continue to do their thing and Michael Crabtree finds the end zone to quiet the doubters. The offense puts up 24 against a pretty good Cleveland defense.

On defense, the return of Jimmy Smith is very exciting. If he can return to form they will have one of the deepest cornerback corps in the NFL, and a potential elite duo of Smith and Marlon Humphrey (potential trio with Tavon Young in the slot). The big thing to watch is the pass rush. I think the key is to get to Baker Mayfield early and knock him off his flow. I think Cleveland puts up 17.

Final Score: Ravens 24 Browns 17

Chad Racine

In this series, the Ravens have 18 wins out of the last 20 games over 10 years. Still, even when the Browns have had significantly less talented teams they still seem to make a close game out of it. I don’t expect this game to be any different. The Browns are a much improved team and are one play or ref call away from being 3-1 or even 4-0. Their defense is tough and very well could be the most difficult challenge the Ravens have faced so far this year.

The Browns offense doesn’t have a single player that scares you anymore. Josh Gordon is gone. They don’t have an A.J. Green or Antonio Brown. However, Mayfield could be that player when he gets out of the pocket and makes plays from there. The return of Jimmy Smith should make things much more difficult for Mayfield, but if he escapes the pocket no matter how good the corners are it’s easier to get beat. The Ravens defense will have a solid day but Mayfield will have some success.

Joe Flacco will continue his streak of high-level play, but it won’t come without error. Myles Garrett will record at least one sack and Denzel Ward will have an interception….maybe off of Crabtree’s hands.

Ravens 27- 23

Ryan Jones

This is probably the most interesting Ravens/Browns matchup in quite some time. While the Ravens are still the better team, and it’s probably their most inferior opponent thus far, the Browns are a somewhat respectable team. They are just a few plays away from being 3-1 or even 4-0 and no Ravens fan would feel as confident if that was the case. Baker Mayfield is the Browns quarterback of the future. It’s clear watching his tape he has the skill set to be a good quarterback, but it’ll take time before he truly is a threat to the Ravens.

With Alex Collins nursing a knee injury, Buck Allen gets the bulk of the workload with 20 total touches. He makes the most of them rushing for one touchdown and catching another.

Joe Flacco continues his stellar start, completing 65 percent of his passes for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.

The Browns home crowd is a rowdy one and contributes to a slow start for the Ravens and creates some nervous Ravens fans at halftime. But the streak of no second half touchdowns continues and the Ravens pull away in the fourth quarter.

Ravens 30 Browns 17

John Darcey

This game really scares me.

The Ravens are coming off a high from beating their arch rivals in Pittsburgh on Sunday night and I could easily see a letdown in Cleveland. Lets be honest, this Browns team isn’t half bad. Their defense is solid and they have some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. This game could be a turning point in the season. Win and you are 4-1, a loss puts you at 3-2…not bad, but that is still a bad taste in your mouth.

In any event some thoughts for Sunday:

— Jimmy Smith, in his first game back, picks off Baker Mayfield.

— Joe Flacco continues his tear, throwing for 320 yards with two TD, one each to Michael Crabtree and John Brown.

— Buck Allen solidifies his spot as the top back with 80 total yards and a score.

— The defense continues their shutout of teams in the second half. 

— Cleveland will have a few bright spots: Mayfield hits Antonio Callaway for a long TD pass downfield.

— Myles Garrett shows why he was a number one pick, making Flacco’s life rough including a sack.

Ravens 27 Browns 16

Nick Capecci

This is the most interesting matchup the Ravens have had all year. The Browns are a team that could easily be 4-0 if they learned how to finish games. The Baker Mayfield era has begun, and the Ravens will be living with this for the next 12 years. Both teams are facing better defenses than they played last week. As are most divisional games in the AFC North, this game will be won in the trenches, and whoever wins the turnover battle and controls the clock, will win the game.

On offense, the Ravens face one of the more underrated defenses. The secondary has names such as E.J. Gaines, who isn’t playing the same way he did in Buffalo last year, Denzel Ward, who is playing well despite being a rookie, and Jabril Peppers, who is a mixed bag of talent who might never be able to put it all together. The underrated star of the secondary is Damarious Randall. Possibly one of the few 1/3rd free range safeties left after the Earl Thomas injury, he will take away the deep ball this week. I expect the ravens to rely more on slot receiver Willie Snead, as well as the tight ends and backs to attack this defense. The Browns defensive line features future star defensive end Myles Garrett, and surprise rookie Genard Avery. I expect other lineman such as Larry Ogunjobi and Emmanuel Ogbah to get after Flacco. It will be a tough day for the Ravens on offense, but they will score 24 hard-earned points.

On defense, the return of Jimmy Smith will create more flexibility for the Ravens. This is the best secondary the Browns have faced all year, and I expect the Ravens to confuse Mayfield with multiple looks and drops. The pass rush will continue to try to find out who wants it more. Matt Judon at this point is extremely frustrating to watch. He makes silly penalties, doesn’t use more than a few pass rush moves, and is lazy in the run game. Tyus Bowser is moving more towards the territory of Kamalei Correa and Sergio Kindle. Tim Williams is a dog, and he needs more snaps. There is no one that wants to get to the quarterback more than him. Za’Darius Smith will never be more then a rotational pass rusher, but you can never have too many of those. The defense might let up some rushing yards ,considering the Browns were able to rush for 200+ yards against a decent Raiders D-line. In the end, I believe martingale will continue his trend of second half adjustments to ensure that the Browns will have an even harder time scoring in the second half. I expect the Browns to get some yards early, but the Ravens will tighten up as the game progresses, only allowing 17 points.

If the Ravens win this game, people will begin to consider them a real contender in a surprisingly deep AFC.

Ravens 24 Browns 17

Ravens improve playoff chances

Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Brandon Portney

The Browns just lost to the Raiders. They allowed the Raiders score 45 points. The Browns do lead the league in takeaways with 13, but the Ravens have done a great job protecting the ball thus far (minus AC). I think the Ravens offense will have its way with this defense and Flacco has another 300+ yards, 2+ TD game.

Defensively, the return of Jimmy Smith and possibly Willie Henry will be big. Baker Mayfield is good. I am a Baker fan, and I was hoping he’d be a Raven. But he’s still a rookie, and I trust that Martindale will be able to get him out of his comfort zone. Sure they put up 42 points last week, but again, it was the Raiders.

The one guy that does kind of scare me? Nick Chubb. He broke out TD runs of 63 and 41 yards last week, and I expect them to give him more opportunities, effective this week. That being said, the Ravens are the ones doing the dictating in this one.

Ravens win BIG, 34-13

Ken McKusick

The Ravens have:

— A defensive score

— A modest and frustrating passing performance from Joe Flacco that includes 1 TD pass and 1 INT, and a reversion to < 6 YPP

— Za’Darius Smith has a combination of 4 QHs plus holding penalties drawn

— The Ravens score twice in the 4th quarter to take/extend the lead, a function of overwork by the Browns defense

— The Ravens defense, rotated and well rested, comes up big in the final 15 minutes

— The Ravens make extensive use of big nickel, inserting Chuck Clark for Tavon Young at SCB to slow the Browns run game.

Lamar Jackson is again used on 3rd down and converts 2 of them.

The Ravens survive a scare and beat the Browns 23-17 by stopping a late drive where Mayfield has 4 downs.

Carey Stevenson

I was a bit shocked to see that the Browns are 2nd in the NFL with 152 yards rushing per game. I expect that to be a focus of the Ravens, looking to make things as uncomfortable as possible for Baker Mayfield on 3rd down. Look for them to cut that average in half on Sunday.

Speaking of Baker, the future is bright…that future just won’t be Sunday. These two teams are 1st and 2nd in offensive plays per game so it’s not like i expect a throttling. Cleveland will move the ball but the Ravens should return Jimmy Smith and maybe Willie Henry to an already stout defense. They also have a chemist at the controls who will no doubt show him some exotic looks. Mayfield will flash..but will also be confused and harassed into four turnovers this week.

One of my offseason keys for the Ravens was for them to find a more well-rounded Mike Wallace replacement and boy did they do it. John Brown stays hot and goes over 100 yards again.

Joe Flacco continues his career year pace with over 300 yards, 3 TD and no picks.

Ravens 31 Browns 20

Michael Telford

— The country is finally starting to see that the Ravens are (apparently) real. They’re driving up the power rankings, and they’re talked about on every national show. That is why I am nervous. That is why I am fearful. History shows that when the Ravens are shown love, they fall flat on their face. Does that make this game against Cleveland a trap game? Maybe. Will the Ravens fall into the trap? I don’t think so. Here are my predictions for the game on Sunday:

Jarvis Landry has a season-long catch percentage of around 54%. I expect the secondary to keep that average the same, if not lower. He’s held to 40 yards.

— Nick Chubb has broken off a couple of long runs recently, but will find no traction against a defense that is allowing 87 RuYds per game – a number inflated by Joe Mixon‘s success when Mosley went down early.

— Michael Crabtree won’t drop a single pass!

Chris Moore starts being used more, and goes for 50.

— Hayden Hurst makes an impact in his debut, with a score and 50-ish yards.

— Joe Flacco increases his TD:INT ratio, with two passing scores, but no picks.

— Run game compiles over 100 yards on the ground.

— Ravens keep Baker Mayfield in check, allowing just 200 PaYds, notching two INTs, and only one passing score.

— Matt Judon and Nick Boyle combine for zero penalties!

Final score: 30-17, Baltimore.

Derek Arnold

I don’t know what to make of the Browns. The defense looked scary good for a few weeks, then they completely crumbled against the lowly Raiders last week in Oakland. Still, I think they’ll be amped up in front of the home crowd and will give the Ravens offense fits.

— After punts (and only two total first downs) on their first three drives, the Ravens start using “The Lamar Package” more often. It works well enough to get them their first score of the day, as Jackson gets his first 20+ yard play and score on the same snap, breaking off a 24-yard TD run to make the score 7-7 midway through the second.

— The teams head to the locker room tied at 10 after a punt-fest of a first half.

— Here in bizarro world, our Ravens are masters of halftime adjustments, and they continue that in Cleveland. The defense picks off Mayfield twice in the second half, while Snead and Hurst haul in Red Zone TD passes from Joe (one set up by the first of the aforementioned picks).

I know we all think of John Harbaugh’s teams as always having letdowns after beating Pittsburgh, but!

Ravens 24 Browns 16

Adam Bonaccorsi

“It’s a trap!” Plenty of folks will quote the late and great Admiral Ackbar this week when referencing the 3-1 Ravens headed to take on the 1-2-1 Brownies in Cleveland.

Those people are wrong.

Cleveland (namely Baker Mayfield) has yet to play a defense of Baltimore’s caliber, nor has their defense faced an offense performing as well as the Ravens (that’s a lie they faced the Saints but it doesn’t fit my narrative). The Browns thus far have beaten a bad Jets team (barely), tied a dysfunctional and inept Steelers team, and lost to the previously 0-3 Raiders, as well as the Saints. We got this Ravens fam.

-Flacco with another pedestrian 300 yds and a trio of TDs without a turnover. Yawn.

-Alex Collins… still struggles. Buck Allen will have more total yards.

-Baltimore’s defense stifles Mayfield and the offense, holding Baker to 50% completion, 2 sacks, and forcing 3 picks, one of which comes at the hands of Sizzle.

-Tucker remains a gem.

-Jarvis Landry cries on the sideline that they need more practice or whatever the hell he screamed about in Hard Knocks.

Ravens 31 Browns 14

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