Ravens vs Browns – Week 9 – DC Show Preview
Pretty incredible isn’t it, the difference between how the Browns look with but an average NFL quarterback compared to how they’ve looked with Weeden? Whether it’s Hoyer or now Campbell, all of a sudden this team looks like the group we thought they were before the season started, one capable of near .500 ball. After this week’s Deadspin story about all the wrong quotes posted on the walls of Berea, if I hadn’t directly heard Coach Chud say he had confidence in Jason, I would have thought it was Campbell’s old Auburn coach who actually said it. But after last week’s performance against a very aggressive and stout defense, I now have confidence that Chud and the rest of the Browns do believe in Campbell.
The other thing I have confidence in is play-action, and like I wrote last week, I expected Norv Turner to have the confidence to call the play with Campbell under center, something that he hadn’t shown belief in with Weeden at the helm. This week, I expect the number of times it’s called to increase. To my count, under center against KC Jason Campbell was 3-4 for 60 yards with play-action, with Baltimore’s top 5 pass rush looking to blitz all day as well, this blitz beating play could easily be the difference in a win and a loss for the Browns today. And having lost 11 in a row to the Ravens, now’s as good a time as any to see the drought stop. I think today it does just that, and the play-action will be a critical difference.
Another interesting development of note, the Bengals are falling apart1 and would only be 2 games ahead of the Browns atop of the AFC North if we win today. I’m not saying you should start saving up for playoff tickets just yet, but if the Browns do win today, the notion of it all of a sudden won’t be one that’s totally insane. Maybe a titch crazy, but not totally nuts. Basically, if the Browns win today, the rest of the year will still be worth watching, period.
Matchups to Watch Out For
– Still Waiting to see if Craig Robertson Can Cover Anyone – Guess who out of 51 inside linebackers playing in a 3-4 base this year is rated the worst in coverage?2 Yep, poor Craig. It’s what happens when QBs are completing nearly 90% of their passes against you and haven’t seen an incomplete pass your way in 3 weeks. Throw in a couple of touchdowns and how Robertson was torched throughout the 1st quarter in KC when they were building a lead (one they never relinquished), and you can better bet Joe Flacco will be looking his way all day long as well. Bring some help, pull him out in passing situations, do something, because Ray Horton’s quoted, “ace in the hole”, is looking more like just a gaping hole in coverage, and it’s one that’s killing this team.
– Josh Gordon vs the Joint of Damocles – As the great hippy parable goes, Damocles was offered all a city’s wealth, wine and women, otherwise known in ancient Greece as The 3 W’s, all he had to do was resist the temptation of smoking a grand joint rolled from the best one hitter quiter purple-icky kush in existence. Of course Damocles couldn’t resist, he got high, lost everything and quickly disappeared into obscurity.
What does any of this have to do with Browns vs Ravens? Not much, it’s more to prove a point to anyone who spent the last month watching the trade deadline confused as to why the Browns were showing an interest in trading Gordon to the highest bidder. No pun intended. It wasn’t because they don’t think he’s the most talented player on their offense, they know he is, and it wasn’t because they foolishly thought they could simply replace him in the draft with whatever pick they did receive. No. It’s all because of what happened to Justin Blackmon this week after he was indefinitely banned for failing yet another drug test, and, the fact that all Josh Gordon need do is get caught toking but one more time and he’ll be gone just like Blackmon.3
Bottom line, this week, next week, every week, whenever, wherever, what happened to Blackmon is what Gordon is but one more mistake away from doing himself. And Josh is currently a guy who’s only known for two things, being an incredibly gifted receiver capable of changing a game in a flash, and also being good at repeatedly getting caught stoned stupid. Which is exactly why the Browns fielded offers for him, and it’s why they’ll continue to take those calls too. They may one day yet still pull the trigger and trade away Gordon, they just can’t do it anymore this year until the offseason. No matter what, here’s hoping Josh is still eligible to play in the NFL by then.
Today’s the day some bad streaks finally come to an end. Joe Flacco being 11-0 against the Browns, comes to an end. My having lost this prediction game the last 3 weeks, not to mention the Browns own 3 game losing streak, comes to an end.
Yes, your Cleveland Browns beat the Ravens today and tentatively start to make the claim that the days of the Ravens and the Steelers dominating the AFC North ever since it was so named in 2002, are drawing to a close. Okay, that last part may still be a little premature, but there’s certainly some changes going on in the AFC North as the mighty are falling and the likes of the Bengals, and maybe, just maybe, the Browns too, are rising. All that’s left to truly draw into better focus on this shifting landscape is for the Browns to finally beat the Ravens. Today, this happens.
It won’t be pretty, but Ray Rice is held in check, Flacco doesn’t kill us over the middle and on crossing routes, Torrey Smith gets very little again as covered by Haden, and the Browns don’t come out completely flat to start the game; instead they charge into the Ravens all led by Jason Campbell connecting with Gordon and Cameron (and maybe we even see Bess hold onto some balls as well…), and the Browns then hold on and win today at First Energy Field!
The line opened at +2.5 Cleveland and has held, mostly because the Ravens are coming out of a bye week and because of that 11-0 streak they’re on against the Browns, however, take those points, enjoy your NFL Sunday and go for the win, folks.
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- Losing Geno Atkins might be the death blow to any hopes they had this season. [↩]
- As noted before, these statistics and ratings unless otherwise noted, all come from the great work done at ProFootballFocus [↩]
- And for those of you out there who want to believe Gordon’s story that he was given codeine by prescription from a doctor for strep throat, know that he had to of come up with that lame excuse while totally high. Not only is codeine in no way prescribed for strep throat, but we’re talking about a guy who, in but one of his many instances of getting busted for weed, has even once fallen asleep while in a Taco Bell drive-through. Going to Taco Bell while high is common place, sure, it even seems a main reason behind their “4th Meal” ad campaign, but do you know how high you have to be to pass out in one of their drive-throughs? You have to be Josh Gordon high, yo. [↩]
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