Ravens At Browns

Tonight, 8:30, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Ch. 13, Espn

October 06, 2002|By Jamison Hensley

SCOUTING REPORT

Ravens run offense vs. Browns run defense -- EVEN

The Ravens are getting more than expected out of Jamal Lewis, who is a year removed from major knee surgery. But the Ravens aren't scaring anyone with the third-worst run attack in the league. Lewis is averaging 65 yards rushing per game and needs to find the seams quicker. But the Browns, with the 25th-ranked run defense, haven't been slowing down running backs. Success against the Browns means moving defensive tackles Gerard Warren and Orpheus Roye. Cleveland middle linebacker Earl Holmes, a free-agent pickup from Pittsburgh, is getting more in sync with his teammates.

Key stat: 230. Combined rushing yards by Kansas City Chiefs' Priest Holmes and Cincinnati Bengals' Corey Dillon in Cleveland's two home games.

Ravens pass offense vs. Browns pass defense -- BROWNS

The Ravens, who have the 28th-ranked passing attack, discovered a weapon on Monday night, as tight end Todd Heap continually made leaping catches in coverage. Cleveland will look to take away the Ravens' best target, which means receivers Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley will be forced to make plays. Quarterback Chris Redman should have time in the pocket since the Browns have applied little pass rush recently. He has to play smart since Cleveland's secondary intercepted six Ravens passes last year. Browns cornerbacks Daylon McCutcheon (eye) and Corey Fuller (hamstring) missed the second half last week, but the Ravens expect both to play.

Key stat: 1. Sacks by Cleveland's defense in the past two games (52 quarterback drop-backs).

Browns run offense vs. Ravens run defense -- BROWNS

Cleveland's running game ranks 21st in the league and its back combination of Jamel White and William Green isn't a marquee one. But the Browns were the first team last year to exploit running off tackle against the Ravens, and they effectively got to the second level on inside linebacker Ray Lewis. Browns center Dave Wohlabaugh, who was successful against Lewis, has missed three games with a broken hand but is expected to start and snap with his left hand. The Ravens have the 16th-best run defense and are allowing an average of 105.3 rushing yards.

Key stat: 56. Tackles by Ray Lewis in three games, putting him on pace to record a personal-best 298.

Browns pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense -- EVEN

Quarterback Tim Couch has come under fire because backup Kelly Holcomb has outplayed him. Whoever is under center has the benefit of throwing to a gifted receiving corps. Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan, Andre Davis and Dennis Northcutt all have scored touchdowns and all have a reception of at least 28 yards. The Ravens' secondary shut down a talented Denver passing game, and the rookie safeties - Ed Reed and Will Demps - didn't make a major mistake. The Browns, who went after cornerback Duane Starks last year, probably will go after Starks' successor, Gary Baxter, this season.

Key stat: 118.0. Couch's fourth-quarter passer rating, fourth best in the NFL.

Special teams -- EVEN

The Ravens' special teams helped win Monday night's game with an NFL record-setting runback and a blocked punt. With so many young players, however, their special teams have been streaky in the first month. The key here is punt returns. The Ravens have given up 12.9 yards per return, sixth worst in the league. Cleveland's Northcutt is averaging 16.7 per return, second best in the league. Ravens punter Dave Zastudil can negate that with another strong effort.

Key stat: 52.5. Punting average by Zastudil on Monday night to set a Ravens single-game record.

Intangibles -- BROWNS

As if Cleveland's crowd wouldn't be pumped up enough for the Ravens, Browns coach Butch Davis called out his fans for not being loud enough. One of the youngest teams in the league, the Ravens have yet to face such daunting surroundings. It will be difficult for such a young team to refocus just six days after such an emotional victory.

Prediction -- BROWNS

The Dawg Pound may have lost some of its bite, but its bark will affect the young Ravens early. The Browns will capitalize and take control of the game in the first quarter. This time, there will be no bows for the Ravens in the national spotlight as the Browns cruise, 24-13.

BREAK DOWN

Records

Ravens 1-2 Browns 2-2 Line

Browns by 6 1/2

Vs. spread

Ravens 1-2 Browns 3-1

Series

Ravens lead 4-2 Last meeting

Browns won, 27-17, on Nov. 18, 2001, in Baltimore. NFL rankings

Ravens offense: Rush (30T), pass (28), overall (30).

Ravens defense: Rush (16), pass (16), overall (13).

Browns offense: Rush (21), pass (10), overall (16).

Browns defense: Rush (25), pass (17), overall (22).

Quick hits

The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 57 of their past 58 games.

The Browns' offense is averaging 5.79 yards on first down, seventh best in league.

Injuries

Ravens: Probable: TE Todd Heap (thigh); LB J.R. Johnson (chest); TE John Jones (chest); TE Terry Jones (hand).

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