Jamison Hensley's scouting report: Ravens vs. Browns

September 26, 2010|By Jamison Hensley | The Baltimore Sun

Ravens run offense vs. Browns run defense: Ray Rice was the most productive player in last Sunday's disappointing loss at Cincinnati. There could be an emphasis to give the ball more to Rice, who has been limited to fewer than 20 carries in six of his past eight regular-season games. Last season against the Browns, Rice gained 89 and 48 yards on the ground. The Browns have the NFL's 25th-ranked run defense, giving up 129.5 rushing yards per game. Cleveland will be without linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (doubtful, chest) and will be further weakened if nose tackle Shaun Rogers (questionable, hip and ankle) can't play. Edge: RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Browns pass defense: Joe Flacco has struggled this season, but he has a career 95.9 quarterback rating against the Browns. Wide receiver Derrick Mason has averaged 100.6 receiving yards in his past three games against Cleveland and has scored two touchdowns. Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh has scored seven touchdowns in 13 games against the Browns. The Browns have talent in the secondary, but with rookies T.J. Ward and Joe Haden, they are extremely young. Ward is a hard-hitting safety, and Haden is biding his time as the nickel back behind Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright. Linebacker Marcus Benard, who leads the Browns with 21/2 sacks, is questionable with an ankle injury. Edge: RAVENS

Browns run offense vs. Ravens run defense: James Harrison, the Browns' leading rusher, is questionable with a thigh injury. Cleveland would turn to either Peyton Hillis or James Davis, who said he saw holes in the Ravens' run defense while watching film this week. The Ravens haven't been as stout against the run as in years past, giving up two runs of 20-plus yards. The biggest concern is the Browns' Wildcat offense, which features Joshua Cribbs. In the season opener, the Ravens gave up 27 yards on two carries to Brad Smith in the New York Jets' Wildcat attack. Edge: EVEN

Browns pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: Seneca Wallace is expected to replace injured Jake Delhomme (ankle) at quarterback for the second straight week. Wallace completed 16 of 31 passes for 229 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. He threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Cribbs, but he also saw an interception returned for a touchdown. The Browns' top target is tight end Ben Watson, who has caught seven passes for 78 yards. Wide receiver Brian Robiskie is doubtful with a hamstring injury. The Ravens have intercepted the Browns in the past 11 meetings, picking off a total of 18 passes. They have held the Jets' Mark Sanchez and the Cincinnati Bengals' Carson Palmer to a combined quarterback rating of 58.7. Edge: RAVENS

Special teams: Cribbs is one of the game's most dangerous returners, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh called the Browns' special teams an "all-star" group. It's important that Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff (three touchbacks this season) continues to get distance on his kickoffs to negate Cribbs. The Ravens' punt coverage team ranks 25th in the NFL, and their kickoff coverage unit is next-to-last. Browns kicker Phil Dawson has missed both of his field-goal attempts this season (42 and 62 yards). Browns punter Reggie Hodges, who has replaced the injured Dave Zastudil, is averaging 43.1 yards this season. EDGE: BROWNS

Intangibles: This marks the first home game for the Ravens since last season, when their average margin of victory at M&T Bank Stadium was 18.3 points. The Ravens' defense hasn't allowed a touchdown this season and gave up a total of one field goal to the Browns in two meetings last season. This series has been dominated by the Ravens, who have won six of the past eight meetings with Cleveland, including the past four. The Browns haven't scored a point in the second half this season. Edge: RAVENS

Prediction: The Ravens' defense will remain hot, forcing multiple turnovers. And Joe Flacco will remain Joe Cool, bouncing back in convincing fashion. The Ravens will celebrate a long-awaited homecoming. RAVENS, 31-10

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