The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Browns vs Ravens – Week 2 – DC Show Preview and Prediction

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens

 

Wow, what a way to start a season. With 63 touchdowns scored and 8,143 total yards being the most an NFL week of games has ever produced, there’s quite literally never been an opening week like it before. League wide unprecedented production, 12 games decided by 7 points or fewer, high energy fast pace offenses, career days and record setting efforts, it’s just too bad Browns fans didn’t get to share in any of this fun. Pretty sure that’s our lot in life. And now with 9 straight years of Opening Day losses and a rebooted franchise record of 1-13, and  you have to wonder why we even bother to watch the first week of the NFL in Cleveland at all.

Week 2 will be different though, right? Er…

This is a team who in their 14 years of reincarnated existence has not only made a big deal out of losing the first game each year right out the gate, they’ve also lost the first 2 or more games of the season 7 times, and, on top of that fact of funlessness, today it just so happens they’re playing the reigning World Champion Baltimore Ravens on the road.1 hooray.

And on that note, Week 2’s DC Show beer of the week, a much necessitated new addition to this weekly exercise, is another big IPA, and another that ranks as one of the best in the world. Stone Brewing’s Ruination IPA. I bought two 22oz bottles of this delectable heavy hops hitter at Heinen’s in Brecksville. I plan on drinking both.

 

stone_ruination_ipa (1)

Being prepared is key. And at kickoff this will be my toast that hopes the Browns look far more prepared for the Ravens than they did for the Dolphins.

Key Matchups to Watch Out For

– Oniel Cousins vs. Haloti Ngata, the middle pass rush, and pretty much everything and anything Baltimore chooses to lineup against him. Here’s a guy who is basically a practice squad tackle that’s being pressed into action out of position because, as Chud so eloquently stated, he’s “the best we have.” To say Cousins had a bad week against the Dolphins would be complimentary. It was abject horror. He was the Hindenburg burning in flames to ground all day long. It was about as awful a week you could ever imagine a linemen having. It was so bad that even Mitchell Schwartz being burned by Cameron Wake all day long still had a much better game. Granted, Coach Chud also followed up by saying Cousins “is going to get the job done for us”, but after watching this guy try to fill a role he’s not well equipped for, and, knowing he’s going up against about the only dangerous threats left to this depleted Ravens defense that was overhauled due to retirement and free agency in the offseason, you can damn sure look for Baltimore to do everything it can to expose this glaring weakness on the Browns line. And keep in mind, Cousins just wasn’t bad against the pass rush and with the 4 penalties he mustered up last week, he was equally horrible while run blocking too. If the Ravens are successful and we have a repeat week o’ horror from Cousins, what is the “best we have” at the moment, will prove again to not be near enough, and it could very well end up the difference in this game.

– Trent Richardson vs the play book. Last season Trent as a rookie played hurt, teams knew he was the main threat and stacked against him, he had a coach whose predictable playbook also wanted to throw it more than run it, and all in all he was seen as ultimately underutilized by being apart of the Browns total offense only 37% of the time. Last week, after a whole offseason with the new regime saying they were going to use him as the workhorse he’s designed to be, a 300 carry a season guy who can also catch the ball, somehow only 28% of the plays went to him. ?!

What’s even more odd is that with the team getting blown up on the right side of the line, of the mere 13 carries Trent did have, somehow 7 of them inexplicably went to the right side where Cousins and Schwartz were playing the parts of matadors without swords. Nothing adds up for failing to get him the ball, absolutely nothing, and as such no excuse given seems to answer why this was the case outside of maybe that of Coach Turner eluding to the fact that Trent was still working his way into the system after missing almost all of OTA’s and preseason. Even if this is true and was the main reason he was so limited, that’s an excuse that cannot be used again. Unless the Browns fall down 3 touchdowns early and significantly trail this whole affair, give T-Rich the damn ball!

– Brandon Weeden vs the world. On this show last Monday we spent a lot of time pointing out how Weeden wasn’t the worst thing that happened against the Dolphins. It was contrary to popular opinion, sure, but you need look no further than his receivers, the lack of a run game and the poor line play, to start to see this. However, no matter how you rank the pitiful play of last week from worst to least worst, Weeden was really bad, and furthermore, he’s reaching critical mass. So picking on him the most each and every week of fail, fair or not, isn’t going to change for most people. With that in mind, here’s my newest Weed’s declaration: I don’t care about his completion % anymore, I don’t care how long his reads take, how long he stares down receivers, how predictable his cadence is, how poor his decisions are, etc, etc, etc, all that matters now is that Weeden wins some games. Who cares if his QBR is one of the worst in the game, who cares if you wanted Alex Smith, who cares if you want Hoyer even, if this team is winning we’ll all look the other way, at least for a little while. The point is, the only way he can begin to remove the blame he carries is if this team starts to win some games. He knows it too.

So find a way, Weed man, because this town already appears long sick of you and they don’t look like they’re going to give you any break at all unless you can start collecting those W’s. We hear it forgives all. We wouldn’t know, but we’ve heard it said and we believe it will. Let’s try it, shall we.

– Browns nickel defense against passes over the middle. Without Pita, Boldin and now Jacoby Jones too, Flacco has to be wondering who he’s throwing it to anymore. Thankfully for him, here comes the Browns. If the game tape on the Browns against the Dolphins was studied properly Flacco and crew likely noticed something the Dolphins didn’t fully capitalize on, just how open guys were against the Browns nickel over the middle. In other words, last week could have been a lot worse for the Browns, and this week will be a nightmare if Cleveland doesn’t shore up the space they allowed in zone coverage between their middle linebackers and safeties. If this does end up open like it was last week, Joe need only throw it to this spot on the field and whomever the Ravens have crossing the field will have a career day. Look for Torrey Smith to play the part of deep threat decoy and stretch the safeties even further back in coverage while helping out Haden, much like Mike Wallace in Week 1, and then look for Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley and whatever receiver by committee is left on this depleted corps to have huge days crossing the middle of the field.

If the Browns don’t bite on the Smith deep threat, however, and they choose to leave Haden on an island in this coverage, then you can just expect that to be huge trouble too as the combination of Flacco’s arm and Smith’s deep threat will simply be too much. Ultimately something is going to give here and unless the Browns can get to Flacco even better than they did against Tannehill, expecting a low scoring game here might be fool’s gold.

Prediction

I don’t expect a low scoring game. There, I said it. With the over/under at 42 I think this one actually turns into somewhat of a shootout. The Browns will have better balance on offense and with the real threat of a running game present, not just one that’s imagined, the passing game will open up a little. By that I mean, expect Cameron to be good again, but “Little” will be a bigger part of today’s attack and the bigger difference maker.  Keep in mind, even with the real threat of Ngata and Suggs, and the addition of Dumervill too, this is not the same Ravens defense we’re accustomed to. Scoring should ensue. Problem is, as excited as we were in how the defense for the Browns played last week, their issues in the secondary is very real, and with the big arm of Flacco and a chip on his shoulder looking to redeem last week’s loss in Denver, this Ravens team can score, and they will.

As much as I’d like to say the Browns win this one and end their terror of having lost to Baltimore 10 straight times, I just don’t see it. They’ll make a good showing, however, I do believe that, but it simply won’t be enough.

The spread is +6.5 Browns, take the points, but the Browns start the year 0-2 for the 8th time in 14 years and lose to the Ravens 30-24.

Go Browns.

I’m going to get more beer.

-Mike James

Listen every Friday to “Defend Cleveland Friday with Mike and Joe”  by clicking here, a weekly hour long Cleveland sports podcast companion to the DC Show that’s the best way to end you week, and the only way to begin your weekend.

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The DC Show with host Mike James airs live every Monday morning from 9am-11:30am on WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland, and streams world wide here.

  1. With the lovely added burn in a wound far from healed of watching our former franchise that led to this horrible reboot receive their Super Bowl rings, which will amount to them having one more set of Super Bowl rings as a franchise than these new Browns have Week 1 wins. hooray. []

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Posted by on Sep 15 2013. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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