Game Scout: Ravens-Browns

The Sports Xchange

October 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens (3-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at First Energy Stadium, Cleveland TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: The Ravens are close to conceding their run game simply won’t work this season. QB Joe Flacco, who has a career 92.7 passer rating against the Browns, will likely dink and dunk the Ravens down the field, employing some West Coast offensive principles. RB Ray Rice has 33 receptions in 11 games against the Browns and his matchup with D’Qwell Jackson is a respectful rivalry. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell picks up the pace against bigger, more physical defenses — and with a 900-plus pound three-man front, he’ll makes Cleveland’s big boys run. Getting to tall but immobile QB Jason Campbell rates as the top goal for the Ravens defense. There is special emphasis on containing Josh Gordon, but safety help will often go toward containing athletic TE Jordan Cameron, who has 49 receptions. The Ravens will likely be more concerned about the pass than the run since former Baltimore RB Willis McGahee is up in years and noticeably slower. He has not been a threat in the passing game. The Browns will run to keep Baltimore honest, but believe they can probe the Ravens secondary if Jason Campbell is given the same kind of protection he received last week in Kansas City. The Chiefs went into the game with a league-best 35 sacks but got to Campbell only once.

*Matchup to watch – Ravens C Gino Gradkowski vs. Browns NT Phil Taylor — Gradkowski is an undersized technician who fights for every inch at the point of attack. Taylor is a mauling anchor with incredible natural lower-body power to shove around and manhandle smaller centers like Gradkowski and blow up inside running lanes.

*Player spotlight – Ravens OLB Elvis Dumervil: Resurgent Terrell Suggs could thrive against struggling RT Geoff Schwartz and commands an extra blocker. Dumervil has 10 sacks against the Browns in five career games with 19 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

*Fast facts: Flacco and coach Jim Harbaugh have never lost to the Browns; the Ravens have won the past 11 meetings with the coach-QB combo. … McGahee is fourth among active running backs with 64 career rushing TDs.


Cleveland can stick around with its pass rush — six sacks last week — and defense if Jason Campbell dodges mistakes. The Ravens survive with stronger special teams play.

*Our pick: Ravens 19-15