Cleveland is a place where the Ravens have enjoyed great success since the Browns returned to the league in 1999, holding a considerable 20-7 win margin. That includes a current streak of nine-straight wins by the Baltimore team.
The last time these two teams played, in Week 4, both were significantly different than the teams who will be on the field on Sunday. Cleveland was without cornerback Joe Haden which allowed Baltimore QB Joe Flacco to put up over 350 yards passing.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens defense has been decimated by injuries and question marks of efficiency. Can they put it all together coming off their bye week to contain the young offensive stars of the budding Cleveland Browns offense?
When: Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: CBS and DIRECTV: 709
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Listen (radio): Sirius XM: 104; WBAL 1090 AM or WIYY 97.9 FM (Baltimore); WTAM 1100 AM or 100.7 WMMS FM (Cleveland)
Spread: Ravens -4 (via Bovada)
The Ravens were 13 point favorites in Week 4 over the Browns. That was before their defense took the major hits of losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the season.
Baltimore’s been atrocious on the road over the past few years and if they do somehow manage to come away with the win, it’s going to be by a couple a points, not by more than a field goal.
Go with Cleveland at home to cover the four points.
Over/Under: 42.5 (via Bovada)
Weather permitting, this game has the potential to be a shootout. Both teams have real weaknesses all across the board on the defensive side of the ball and that could mean a big scoring day in Cleveland.
But, the AFC North is predicated on defense, no matter what the Ravens try to do. These divisional games are always played closely and with an attempt to control the clock and bleed the opponent with a strong rushing game.
With bruising backs like Ray Rice and Trent Richardson involved, expect a heavy dose of a clock-control oriented approach from each team. That factored in with Baltimore’s struggles on the road and Cleveland’s young offense and its sure to be another close, low-scoring AFC North affair.
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
CB Chykie Brown, Ankle, Probable
TE Ed Dickson, Hand, Probable
LB Dannell Ellerbe, Hand, Probable
S James Ihedigbo, Hand, Probable
WR Jacoby Jones, Foot, Questionable
DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu, Knee, Probable
DE Pernell McPhee, Thigh, Questionable
DT Haloti Ngata, Shoulder, Questionable
S Bernard Pollard, Chest, Probable
S Ed Reed, Should/chest, Probable
CB Jimmy Smith, Abdomen, Questionable
LB Terrell Suggs, Ankle, Probable
CB Johnson Bademosi, Hip, Probable
S Tashaun Gipson, Knee, Probable
DT John Hughes, Arm, Probable
LB D’Qwell Jackson, Foot/toe, Questionable
LB James-Michael Johnson, Knee/groin, Probable
WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Hamstring, Probable
RB Chris Ogbonnaya, Chest/ribs, Probable
DE Juqua Parker, Knee, Questionable
CB Dimitri Patterson, Ankle, Questionable
RB Trent Richardson, Chest/ribs, Probable
DT Ahtyba Rubin, Calf, Questionable
DE Frostee Rucker, Shoulder/toe, Probable
DE Brian Sanford, Knee, Questionable
S Ray Ventrone, Hand/calf, Questionable
S T.J. Ward, Hand/shoulder, Questionable
QB Brandon Weeden, Groin/thigh, Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Cleveland: RB Trent Richardson
Richardson totaled 104 all-purpose yards against the Ravens in Week 4 and also scored on a goal-line play.
He only averaged 3.2 yards per carry in the that contest but came on strong last week against a very good San Diego Chargers rush defense. It’s worth noting that the Houston Texans ran for 181 yards in Week 7 before the Ravens bye week.
If the Browns want to win, they’ll be feeding Richardson the ball in any way that they can. He has the ability to make plays out of nothing and is one of the hardest running backs in the NFL to bring down on first contact.
Projected Stats: 18 rushes, 96 yards, 1 TD; four receptions, 35 yards
Baltimore: WR Torrey Smith
While Ray Rice has killed it in his career against Cleveland, his Week 4 performance (eight points) leaves a lot to be desired. He’s coming off of another poor fantasy outing in which he had just five points due to game situations (Baltimore getting killed).
That leaves Torrey Smith as the big fantasy play for the Ravens. His last truly productive outing came against the Browns in Week 4 when he had six grabs for 97 yards and one touchdown.
Joe Haden won’t be blanketing Smith the whole game and even if he does, Smith’s shown he has what it takes to get over the top of the young Browns’ secondary.
Projected Stats: 7 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD
Key to Victory
This game is going to be won with the offensive lines. If Cleveland’s hogs can build upon its strong showing last week against the Chargers stout run defense, it’ll be a long day for the Ray Lewis-less Ravens defense.
Ray Rice was held to just 2.7 yards per carry against the Browns in Week 4. If that happens again, there’s not much of a chance the Ravens will be able to exploit the Browns secondary as badly now that Joe Haden is back in the lineup.
The Ravens have come back to win the ensuing game following a 20-plus point loss every time under head coach Jim Harbaugh. It hasn’t happened much, this being just the fourth time. They also have the added bonus of a nine-game winning streak against Cleveland and the luxury of having their bye week to prepare for this game.
Despite the silver linings, the Ravens have been pretty bad on the road offensively in recent history. In fact, the team’s last eight losses dating back to the end of the 2010 season have all come on the road.
The Cleveland Browns have the potential to explode offensively against a very depleted, and now injured, Baltimore Ravens defense. This isn’t the Ravens D of old and is missing, and could be missing even more, of the key players that made it so dominant.
Look for another hard and close-fought game in which the Browns inch out in the end to win their third game of the season.
Final Score: Baltimore 17, Cleveland 21
Mike Hoag Jr., is a Breaking News Team writer for Bleacher Report. He's also an NFL and Cleveland Browns featured columnist for the site.