Regular Season Week Four: What To Look For

Baltimore Ravens

1.  Ravens Passing Game
The Cleveland Browns are ranked 27th in the NFL for pass yards allowed per game with 269.  The Baltimore Ravens are 3rd in the NFL in pass yards per game with 301 yards each game.  This creates a big mismatch in favor of the Ravens.  One of the reasons the Browns are ranked so low right now is star CB Joe Haden is suspended 4 games under the NFL substance abuse policy.  The Ravens passing game is way improved from last year with the rise of TE Dennis Pitta, WR Torrey Smith, and QB Joe Flacco.  If I were offensive coordinator Cam Cameron I would start the game off with a deep pass to Smith to set the tone for the game and hopefully get a quick lead.

2.  Browns QB Brandon Weeden vs Ravens S Ed Reed
A savvy, veteran ballhawk, like Reed, feasts on rookie QBs like Weeden.  So far Weeden has thrown 6 INTs, an average of 2 per game.  He also has a completion percentage of 56.5, which isn’t good for a starting QB.  In order to stop Reed from having a major impact on the game, Weeden will have to not stare down his targets and looks off Reed before throwing deep.  Odds are the Browns won’t throw it deep much because of a few factors.  One of them is Reed obviously.  Another is Weeden is more comfortable  throwing shorter passes.  Lastly, the Ravens will try and blitz Weeden a lot to confuse him so the Browns won’t have much time to throw deep.  Reed will most likely be watching Weeden’s eyes as it is unlikely Weeden will be able to look off Reed effectively.  Expect Reed to have at least 1 INT and Weeden to throw no less than 2 INTs.

3.  Ravens Offensive Line
This will be a good matchup to watch as it will pit two strong units against each other.  The Ravens have given up 5 sacks so far this year which ranks as tied for 9th best in the NFL.  The strength of the Browns defense is their pass rush.  In three games they have totaled 9 sacks which is tied for 6th best in the NFL.  It is time to see which unit is better.  If the Browns want to pull the upset they will need to create exotic blitzes to confuse the Ravens inexperienced line.  Expect the blitzes to come over LG and RT where the Ravens have a total of 6 NFL starts coming into this game.  With this being said the offensive line has really impressed so far this year and will look to continue this trend.  I predict the Browns will get 2 sacks which won’t be enough to upset the Ravens.

4.  Ravens FB Vonta Leach vs Browns MLB D’Qwell Jackson
If the Ravens want to run effectively against the Browns, Leach will have to block Jackson well.  Jackson is the heart and soul of the Browns defense and is the main run stuffer.  Leach relishes contact so he will gladly take on the challenge and probably succeed.  Leach is the key run blocker for the Ravens each week as he has to keep the LBs out of the way.  Cleveland is tied for the 22nd best run defense allowing 122.7 yards per game.  They are also allowing just over 4 yards per carry.  If Jackson is kept out of the way Ray Rice will be able to reach the second level of the defense and it will only be a matter of time before he breaks off a long run or two.

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