Five Ravens stats that stand out ahead of Sunday's game against Cleveland

September 17, 2014|By Jon Meoli | The Baltimore Sun

Every Wednesday, I’ll serve up five stats you should know heading into that week’s Ravens game. This week’s stats, pertaining to Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, are based on just two games and could be misleading, but either way, here they are.

5.09 – Through two games, the Ravens’ running backs are averaging 5.09 yards per carry. Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett padded those stats late in Thursday’s win over the Steelers, but a number around two yards per carry better than last year’s team rate has to be just what the Ravens signed up for when they brought in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. This, of course, is attributable to many more other than the backs. The offensive line, the tight ends, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk have all excelled in the run blocking game and opened lanes for those backs to run clean through the line. Which is good, because…

301 – The Browns have allowed the eighth-most rushing yards in the league through two games of the season, with 150.5 yards allowed per game. Given how head coach Mike Pettine schemed so well last year in Buffalo to force five interceptions from quarterback Joe Flacco, it’s imperative that the Ravens take advantage and move the ball on the ground against a Browns defense that could give the Ravens fits in the passing game.

0 – The Ravens are one of two teams in the NFL to not allow a touchdown in the red zone this year, along with Washington. Overall, the team has allowed only one touchdown in two games, and that was on bad coverage from Chykie Brown. The defense is giving up yards, but keeping teams in front of them and holding them to field goals. That’s nothing new, but it seems to be improved this year. The Browns have small receivers who can find space in the end zone and power running backs in Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell, so that will be put to the test Sunday.

15 – Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has just one sack in his last 10 games, but has 15 in 21 career games against the Browns. It could be the perfect antidote to help him break out of his slumber, though the Browns’ left tackle, Joe Thomas, is one of the best at the league at keeping his quarterback upright.

28 percent – Over one of every four passes Flacco has thrown this year have gone to wide receiver Steve Smith, who is the team’s leading receiver and appears to be far and away the team’s top option in the passing game. The tight ends, Owen Daniels and Dennis Pitta, have combined for four more targets over the two-game stretch, but how often Smith has been thrown to shows that his $25 Starbucks card bets have worked and he and Flacco are getting on the same page.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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