Browns vs. Ravens Previews and Predictions
If you love massacres or are just a big fan of underdog stories that don’t make a turn for the better, then you will love tonight’s division rivalry Thursday Night Football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. This is a true David vs. Goliath story; the only difference is that this one will end up with David’s head rolling around on the floor while Goliath celebrates by doing the Ray Lewis dance.
The Browns are coming into the Ravens M&T Bank Stadium at the most inopportune time. The Ravens are coming off their huge and emotional Sunday Night victory over the universally hated New England Patriots. While there was yet another controversial call by the Replacement Refs to end the game in which the Ravens game winning field goal appeared that it may have been just wide, the real story of the game was the emotional triumph of Baltimore’s wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith’s younger brother died in a tragic motorcycle accident on Saturday and in a last minute decision, Torrey decided to play the game in his brother’s honor. Smith ended the game, which was played against one of the leagues best teams, with an amazing and heartfelt 127 yards and two touchdowns. While I never root for the Ravens, being an AFC powerhouse on a consistent basis, I was truly cheering for Smith that entire game. He is a real class act.
Oh! Don’t worry about the Replacement Refs botching another call tonight because guess what? Ding Dong the Rent-a-Refs are gone! The league has come to terms with a news agreement for the Real Refs. Watch here for more news on that.
While Cleveland is one of the only two remaining winless teams left in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints being the other, they still have a lot of hope for the future. No realistic Browns fan came into this season thinking that with a rookie running back and quarterback that they would be a success right off the bat. The Browns current roster is the true definition of a work in progress. While Trent Richardson has shown signs of future stardom, his PIC, Branden Weeden is yet to have his breakout performance. Sorry Cleveland fans, you will have to wait at least another week to see that happen because Ray Lewis and company have built their careers off of eating rookies and inexperienced players for breakfast. Oops! Next weeks game is against the New York Giants.
Even if the Browns had a team filled with veterans, the Ravens would still have a clear advantage in this game based solely on the fact that the Ravens have dominated the Browns for 8 straight contests. On top of that, Joe Flacco has been at the helm for each of those lopsided victories and is off to the best start of his young career. The Browns have averaged just over 11 points a game during that losing streak to their division rivals and tonight’s game should be right around those same numbers…maybe worse. The one advantage that the Browns might have, if you are looking really hard for the silver lining, is that the Ravens are one of the oldest teams in the league and now they have to play on a short 4 days rest. In all honesty, I feel that if the Ravens had a double header against a bye week rested Browns team, Baltimore would still come out victorious, so to me the rest really doesn’t matter.
To add salt to their wound, Cleveland has a few injuries that will make the final score of this prime time game even more lopsided. The Browns #1 wide receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi, will be sidelined with a hamstring pull and veteran back up Tight End, Alex Smith, will be out with a concussion. On top of those injuries, Trent Richardson, the one bright spot of what has been a nightmarish start to the season, has a banged up knee and while he is listed as probable to play I doubt he will be effective. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Ravens have a completely healthy team and their star player, Ray Rice, is coming off his most impressive game of the season where he had his first 100 yard game of the year and a touchdown. I am expecting that between Ray Rice dominating the clock with his fearless power running and Joe Flacco picking apart the Browns extremely porous defense, this will look more like a scrimmage during training camp between the starters and the third stringers. While I would never wish the big “Doughnut” season on anyone, I feel that the Browns have a good chance of being winless this season.
My prediction for tonight’s massacre is a Baltimore victory, 34-7. Sorry Cleveland, at least you still have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.