The Ravens are coming off an incredibly emotional, hard-fought victory against the New England Patriots on Sunday night. It doesn't quite erase the taste in their mouths from last January's AFC Championship Game, but at 2-1, things are looking up for this team.
The Browns are...well, they are trying to rebuild. Again. It hasn't been pretty to watch so far this season, as they have been outscored 75-57 and rank in the bottom 10 in pass yards, rush yards, pass yards allowed and rush yards allowed per game.
What Is More Likely To Happen?
Where: M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD
When: Thursday, September 27 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
Listen: WTAM 1100 (Cleveland); WBAL 1090 AM (Baltimore)
Betting Line: Ravens (-14), according to Bovada
What's At Stake?
The Browns need a lifeline. Everyone knew that this was going to be a rough season for the franchise, but things just seem to keep getting worse with each passing week. Going against their division rivals on a short week could be disastrous.
The Ravens made their statement last week by defeating the Patriots. This week, all they have to do is stay the course and avoid playing down to the competition, which seems to happen with this team a few times a year.
It is hard to envision the Ravens finding the banana peel enough times in this game to give the Browns a chance to win, though who knows which Joe Flacco will show up.
Cleveland Browns Injury Report (via ESPN)
Questionable: TE Alex Smith (Concussion); WR Mohamed Massaquoi (Hamstring)
Baltimore Ravens Injury Report
Browns Player to Watch: RB Trent Richardson
The Browns' offense is devoid of playmakers who can break a big play for a score. Richardson is the best of a bad bunch. He has not taken off like everyone expected, though some of that can be attributed to his knee surgery in the preseason.
He did have one great game against Cincinnati two weeks ago sandwiched in between two terrible games. He needs to establish the tone right out of the gate for the Browns to have a chance against a team that is bigger, faster and far more physical than they are.
Ravens Player to Watch: QB Joe Flacco
If Joe Flacco is going to enter elite territory, which he certainly has the talent to do, this is the kind of game where he should dominate.
In two of three games this season, Flacco has looked really good. But he was terrible against the Eagles in Week 2, completing only 52 percent of his passes with one touchdown, one interception and 5.52 yards per attempt.
The Browns boast the 27th-ranked pass defense in the NFL right now, so Flacco should have ample opportunity to throw the ball down field and turn this into a route.
Key Matchup: QB Brandon Weeden vs. Ravens Secondary
Even though I didn't pick Weeden as the Browns player to watch, I do want to see how he handles himself against a Ravens pass defense that has looked susceptible this season.
Richardson has to be great for the Browns to have a chance, but they need to get some kind of passing game going just to have something to build on the rest of the season.
The Ravens need a game against an "easy" opponent to start getting their confidence and swagger back after giving up 704 yards through the air to Michael Vick and Tom Brady. This defense prides itself on being near the top of the stat sheets every year, yet they are struggling to stop anyone right now.
The Ravens will only lose this game if they beat themselves. If they are turning the ball over, forcing the defense out on the field with no rest, things will get ugly. However, the Browns are not good enough on their own to match what the Ravens have to throw at them.
Ravens 31, Browns 10