Ravens vs. Browns: A Good Game from Joe Flacco Would Prove Ravens Can Contend

Jon ReidCorrespondent IINovember 2, 2012

HOUSTON,TX - OCTOBER 21: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks for a receiver against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 43-13. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Forget the injuries. Ray Lewis is gone for the regular season, and so is Lardarius Webb. And the other injuries will continue to get better as time goes on, so long as guys like Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata don't reaggravate them.

The biggest roadblock to the Ravens winning is the man who plays the most important position on the field: quarterback Joe Flacco

Flacco can be a great quarterback. Heck, he shows it just about every time he suits up and takes the field at M&T bank Stadium. Unfortunately, though, he has hasn't been able to translate that success to his road games.

He's got some of the more drastic splits in the NFL. And his production at home compared to his production away from Baltimore drives fans crazy.

This week, however, is Flacco's opportunity to turn that around and prove he can perform on the road.

Playing in Cleveland won't be as simple as people may think. This is the team that only lost to Baltimore by a touchdown in Week 4. The Browns are also a division rival, and they're a young team that just upset the San Diego Chargers last week.

If Flacco can manage to stay composed, avoid taking too many sacks and throw for 300 yards or more, along with a few TDs, he will instill confidence in his teammates, his coaches and the fans. It would also prove to everyone that he can, indeed, put up numbers on the road and lead his team to victory.

With Baltimore's defense banged-up and the Browns starting to see some signs of success from rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, the Ravens can ill afford for Flacco to only complete 50 percent of his passes and throw for under 200 yards—as his road average indicates he will.

If ever there was a time for Flacco to step up and come through with a big game on the road, this would be it.

Considering that the Ravens still have to play teams like Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cincinnati on the road, Flacco better his game away from M&T Bank together sooner rather than later. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the Ravens' chances of competing in the AFC playoffs this year depends on it.