Can the Cleveland Browns defense slow down the Baltimore Ravens offense?

 On Sunday, the AFC North rivals the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens will meet for the second time in six weeks, and not much can be inferred for either team from their participation in the first match.


It was October 1 in Cleveland, and it was the low point of the Browns’ season, an embarrassing 28-3 loss that was almost certain to end two hours before kickoff when Browns quarterback Browns senior Deshaun Watson was replaced for the game with a sore shoulder. .

Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson was the emergency starter, and the Ravens’ hungry defense feasted on the rookie quarterback, limiting Cleveland to 73 net yards with four sacks and three interceptions.

The Browns only totaled 166 yards.
The two teams meet on Sunday for the second time this season in Baltimore, and the Browns are in much better physical and competitive shape, having won three of their last four games to improve to 5-3.

Watson is finally healthy again and is having his best performance in a Browns jersey.

He completed 19 of 30 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 27-0 shutout of Arizona.

But beating the Ravens in Baltimore will be the Browns’ biggest challenge of the season so far. Since 1999, when the Browns re-entered the NFL as an expansion team three years after the original franchise moved to Baltimore, Cleveland’s record against the Ravens in Baltimore is 5-19.

The Browns’ vaunted defense, which ranks at or near the top of the league in many key defensive categories, is matched by Baltimore’s high-powered offense led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, which ranks atop the league with a completion percentage of 71.5. -tested percentage, playing at a similar level to his MVP year in 2019.

“Lamar does a great job distributing the ball,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He is always a threat even when he plays unscheduled.

He did it against us in the first game. So they really challenge you on the perimeter.

Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows this better than anyone. Schwartz’s group has clearly been the main reason the Browns are 5-3, matching the records of their AFC North rivals the Bengals and Steelers.

The Ravens are in danger of running away with the tough AFC North at 8-2, although if the playoffs started today the entire division would be in the playoffs.

Sunday’s game between Baltimore and Cleveland will likely feel like a playoff game to both teams and their fans.

“They have a pretty good idea of ​​who we are and we have a pretty good idea of ​​who they are,” Schwartz said.

Even with a seemingly healthy Watson boosting the effectiveness of Cleveland’s offense, the Browns’ defense will have to do the heavy lifting to beat the Ravens and their high-powered offense.

In a 27-0 win over the Cardinals last Sunday, the Browns defense held Arizona’s offense to just 58 yards of total offense. But those were the cardinals. On Sunday in Baltimore, the Browns will face one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, a strong contender for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and his supporting cast will face their toughest challenge of the season in the Ravens’ offense.

“In big games like this,” Schwartz said, “you need your big players to be big.”

For the most part, Garrett and company did just that, even as the Browns won and lost games by slim margins or by blowouts in their first eight games.

They won by one point (39-38 vs. Indianapolis), by two points (19-17 vs. San Francisco), by 21 points (24-3 vs. Cincinnati), by 24 points (27-3 vs. Tennessee) and by 27 points (27-0 over Arizona).

They also lost two games by four points (26-22 vs. Pittsburgh and 24-20 vs. Seattle) and one by 25 points (28-3 vs. Baltimore). So there’s no middle ground for the Browns so far this season. Win or lose, their games are awesome or addictive.

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