The Browns and Baltimore Ravens are familiar foes, but that hasn’t stopped the Ravens from beating the Browns senseless on a number of occasions. In their first meeting this season, however, the Browns nearly rode Peyton Hillis to victory. How will things be different this week? I spoke with Matt Sadler of The Ebony Bird to get a better perspective on today’s match-up (you can also read a Q+A I did on The Purple Chaos, in which I unfortunately pick the Ravens to win…):
1. Maybe he snuck up on the Ravens in their first meeting, but Peyton Hillis had his way with the Ravens defense, albeit in a losing effort. How will the Ravens plan to contain Hillis this time?
They will gameplan for him. They will have to throw more people in the box. 144 is quite a motivation for this team. I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t be ready.
2. From what you’ve seen so far, what are your initial impressions of Colt McCoy? How does he change the Ravens’ defensive game plan?
McCoy is sneaky. His speed, along with his small stature, allows him to surprise some defenses. The Ravens’ defensive coordinator has to stress discipline with his defense this weekend. I am concerned about corners leaving the wideouts to help with the run. He adds a whole element of surprise.
3. How has Anquan Boldin’s presence changed this team offensively? Who has been able to benefit the most from this off-season acquisition?
It has allowed Flacco to have more trust in his receivers. I still think he loves Derrick Mason but having TJ and Boldin to throw to gives him 3 guys on the outside who will play physical and go after the ball. Looking at the numbers, all three receivers’ numbers are down, but it is impossible to make them all happy. So the only person who has really benefited is Flacco himself.
4. With the regular season winding down, where are you putting the Ravens’ chances to make a deep run in the playoffs?
It’s going to be about matchups. If the season ended right now, we are looking at a game at Indy. Even though the Colts are depleted, they have a certain mojo, especially against Baltimore. The Ravens would need to break that curse, and then win a tough one in Pittsburgh. All that for a chance to probably play at New England. It would take a miracle run for this team. They are capable of it, but not sure they have it all together.
5. Who is the Ravens’ MVP this season?
Haloti Ngata- The guy is a defensive stud. For as many plays that he makes, there are the others that he affects and we can’t see because he is being double and triple teamed.
6. Who wins this match-up?
I think the Ravens win this one by 10 points.