As stated in the NFL.com article that I wrote for this week, this will be the 23rd time that the Browns will face the Ravens. Whether or not you still think of the them as the “old Browns,” the Ravens are a team that has usually had its way with the “new Browns.” I spoke with two Baltimore Ravens bloggers – Conoon Kim of The Purple Chaos and Matt Sadler of the Baltimore Sports Report – to get their opinions on today’s game.
1. Despite the additions the Ravens have made on offense, it has sputtered through two games. Who’s most to blame for the offense’s rocky start?
Conoon Kim (CK): As much as Flacco threw those 4 interceptions, it all goes back to the coaching. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron should have been more patient and ran the ball more. It would have taken the pressure off Flacco, attacked the opposing D-line, and milked the clock to keep the Ravens defense off the field. Even Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zorn should have worked harder with Flacco on his mechanics. It’s not entirely Flacco to blame; I’m leaning more towards the coaches on this one.
Matt Sadler (MS): Ummmmmm. Strong Defenses. The Jets were phenomonal in Week 1 and the Bengals know how to play the Ravens well.
That being said, the Ravens need to find away to still score 20 points a game. That falls on Cam Cameron. I think what frustrated most Ravens fans last week, was that Ray Rice was havinga strong game and yet he only got 16 carries. Flacco definitly struggled last weekend. There’s no questioning that. He has to step it up, and I think he will. I know he will.
2. With Joe Flacco struggling, will the Browns be seeing plenty of Ray Rice on Sunday?
CK: You can count on it. I think Rice has been itching for a breakout game this season. He almost had a big run last week, but was stopped short by a shoelace tackle. Cam Cameron will realize that running the ball is the true identity of the Ravens and stick with it against a penetrable Browns defense.
MS: Oh sure. Ray Rice will have an impact, but the Ravens air attack will be in full force on Sunday. If there are 2 games in the schedule where the Ravens can work things out, it is the Browns and Bills at home.
3. How many years would you say Ray Lewis has left? It’s amazing that he’s been in the league this long and is as punishing as ever.
CK: Honestly, I can’t even imagine a Ravens team without Ray Lewis. His contract goes to 2015, and 2 option years after that. I can defintely see him finishing his contract up to 2015. Even if his body starts to let down, his mind and heart won’t. It’s rare to see middle linebackers come this far, but Lewis’ passion and love for the game is what seperates him from others. The biggest concern for me is the possibility of an 18-game season— that would really hurt the chances of Lewis going another 7 years.
MS:At least 2 more seasons. I can’t believe the number of teams stayed away from him when he was a free agent. Their loss. Yes, he has lost a step, but he smart, he is quick, and he is a leader.
4. The AFC North is going to be a tough division this year. How do you see the rest of the season playing out for the Steelers, Bengals, and Ravens as they fight for the division crown? I think we can agree the Browns are, well, a few years away from thinking about division titles.
CK:The AFC North is definitely one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, if not the hardest. This division has a reputation for hard-nosed defensive teams. We have 3 playoff teams fighting for a spot, so it’ll be a grinding battle throughout the year. As for the Browns, I think with Mike Holmgren, they’re headed in the right direction. In a couple years, the AFC North will be the most feared without a question.
MS:I’m shocked that Pittsburgh has played as well as it has without Big Ben. I still want to think the Ravens can do it this season. They need should go at least 4-2 in the division, and they will need to win one game against the Texans, Saints, or Patriots. Season standings- Ravens 12-4. Bengals 10-6. Steelers 10-6. Browns 4-12. The Bengals and Steelers will fight for Wild Cards against the Jets and Dolphins.
5. Who’re you picking to win this one?
CK:The Ravens at home, coming off an ugly loss— I have to go with the Ravens here. I’m sure going 0-3 is not something the Browns want, but the Ravens just won’t lose today. 24-9, Ravens.
MS: This is a blowout. 30-3 for the birds.