The Browns enter M&T fresh off a three game win streak and chance to play spoiler in the final AFC North showdown of 2018. The Ravens have a chance to lock up the AFC North with a victory (or loss by Steelers) and secure a potential rematch home game against the Chargers in the playoffs.
The previous October 7th meeting resulted with a 12-9 overtime defeat in Cleveland and the Ravens were held without a touchdown, managing only 3 field goals in the loss. Both teams have come a long way since week five and both are looking to end this season on a winning note.
The Ravens rushing attack has landed the Ravens offense in the top five on third down (46.3% – 3rd) which is keeping thier opponents off of the field and forcing them to make the most of their drives when finally on the field. Lamar Jackson seems to have been developing week to week, improving in rhythm, timing and accuracy in areas. The deep timing is still off and with any kind of immediate improvement, it could really take the offense to the next level. The reliance on the run game has been enough, and considering that NFL defenses now have six weeks of Ravens film, and still can’t slow it down is very impressive.
Lamar Jackson went over the 200+ yard passing mark for the first time against arguably his toughest defensive test yet. He also threw his longest touchdown pass overt he past six games to tight end Mark Andrews, hitting him perfectly in stride for 68 yards and the score. Those are the small week to week improvements that we have been seeing and it is beginning to pay off. Naturally, his fumbles and running style are always concerning, but having a top flight defense always helps. However, during the playoffs, those types of mistakes usually prove costly and must be corrected.
The Chargers victory was a huge statement for the defense, holding Philip Rivers and company under 200 total yards of offense. The Ravens defense are also forcing turnovers after a dry spell midseason and walked out of LA with four sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
Defensively the Ravens are forcing offenses to beat them with their short game and not allowing the deep throws. The problem lies in facing mobile quarterbacks that create big gains off of broken plays. Baker Mayfield is more than capable of creating the explosive plays and the defense will have to spy, or contain him to prevent it.
In their week five meeting, the Ravens were able to sack Mayfield five times and also added ten quarterback hits for the game. Currently, the Ravens defense is allowing 4.64 yards per play, which is ranked as the fewest allowed across the NFL (Chicago is second) and would suggest that Baker Mayfield will be forced to beat the Ravens with his arm this week. The Browns offense with Freddie Kitchens has gone 4-2 after the departure of Hue Jackson (2-5-1) and has taken Baker Mayfield from a 78.9 quarterback rating to 111.1 rating.
The heavy blitz, zone coverage may be the recipe for the Ravens defense this week.
The swagger is back in Baltimore and after taking down the hottest AFC team last week, the Ravens have shown they have been building quite the contender over the course of this second half of the NFL season. A statement win over the Browns to close the season and enter the playoffs would be an incredible “Festivus” celebration in Baltimore.
Lets go Ravens!