Browns vs. Ravens: DPD staff predictions for the home opener

Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken (11) is tackled by Cleveland Browns strong safety Donte Whitner (31) in the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken (11) is tackled by Cleveland Browns strong safety Donte Whitner (31) in the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dawg Pound Daily got together to share their thoughts regarding how the Cleveland Browns will fare in today’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Cleveland Browns enter Week 2 without Robert Griffin III after he was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. Josh McCown now gets the nod as the starting quarterback, continuing the revolving door of starting quarterbacks in Cleveland.

The loss of Griffin was a tough blow for his attempted comeback, but the offense may actually fare better with McCown making the decisions.

Our staff got together to predict the outcome of today’s game, just one week after we blindly put faith in the Browns’ ability to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns are receiving much less support this week, but no one here would be upset with a Browns victory.

Jonathan Goehring (2016 record: 0-1): Ravens 38, Browns 27

Surprisingly, this will be one of the higher scoring games of the week. The Browns will get off to an early lead, and Josh McCown will play very well throughout the game. If he stays healthy, he will throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Gary Barnidge will have a bounce back game, and the offense will look promising.

The problem for the Browns will be their defense. They still can’t stop the run, and they can’t get off the field on third down. This will be a recipe for disaster, especially against a team with a more formidable air attack in the Ravens. Cleveland’s best hope is to get off to a fast start, and to play a clean game in all three phases.

It may be possible for the team to do this than many realize it, the chances are low that the Browns play a clean enough game. For these reasons, the Browns will fall to 0-2 on Sunday, in a close shootout.

Tom Moore (2016 record: 1-0): Ravens 28, Browns 17

Today’s game against the Baltimore Ravens is the exact type of game where the Cleveland Browns surprise people.

The team has spent the week being ridiculed because it lost the season opener (so what else is new?), lost it to rookie Carson Wentz (OK, and?) as well as lost starting quarterback Robert Griffin III to what may turn out to be a season-ending injury (and this is bad why?).

Week 2 of the NFL season has also been kind to the Browns as they have won the second game of the season for the past two years. In addition, Mike Pettine, Pat Shurmur, Romeo Crennel and Butch Davis all won their first games as Browns head coach in Week 2.

Normally that would be enough, but this is no normal Browns season.

Winning is not the Browns top priority this year, they still can’t run the ball or stop anyone from passing it, and Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco is 13-2 against Cleveland in his career.

We want to go with the Browns, but we just can’t.

Roger Cohen (2016 record: 0-1): Ravens 19, Browns 12

For the first half last week, RG3 reminded me of the guy who thrilled all my DC neighbors a couple of years back, then reality set in and he proved to be EXACTLY the “glad he’s your problem” QB everyone here in the nation’s capital taunted me about all off-season. Robert we hardly knew ya’ and hope you and your new squeeze just rented in Believeland.

Here’s the good news: McCown put up good numbers against the Ravens last year and the Browns had few penalties and kicked OK in Philly last week. The bad news is that I fear all that goes south this week. Crowell fumbles, Erving struggles, the secondary fails on key first downs and Murray (is that the kicker?) misses a couple of field goals.

The biggest cheers at First Energy may come from Tribe fans watching their smartphones. Ravens struggle but manage an ugly 19-12 win, the Browns dozen coming on a defensive TD, a Barnidge garbage time score, a missed PAT and two-point try.

Eric Szczepinski (2016 record: 0-1): Ravens 24, Browns 17

Josh McCown plays like the savvy veteran he is, capable of throwing for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. With McCown back under center, tight end Gary Barnidge will have a big day catching a touchdown and being close to the 100-yard mark.  However, the Ravens prey on a late game turnover by the Browns to spoil the 2016 home opener for Browns fans.

Joel Cade (2016 record: 0-1) Ravens 31, Browns 10

The Cleveland Browns have had very little success against the Baltimore Ravens. However, last season the Browns were one play away from sweeping the series. For better or worse, the Browns are a different team than last year.

The Ravens looked dominant in Week 1 on defense. After watching the Buffalo Bills put up 31 points on the Jets defense, the Ravens defense may actually be better than is thought right now. This is bad news for an already struggling offense. The promotion of Josh McCown to starting quarterback will help the young players develop. However, the game will come down to whether or not the Browns can finally establish a running game against one of the best front seven defenses in the league.

Even though all the pieces are in place, the Ravens offense needs to improve significantly if they want to compete for the AFC North title. The Ravens offense is based on zone-run with a short roll out passing attack. They will take chances deep with their improved receiving corps. Against Buffalo, the Ravens almost self-destructed with multiple penalties.

The Browns defense did an excellent job shutting down the zone run against the Eagles. If Shelton can continue his play in the middle, the Browns can force the Ravens to beat them in the air. Unfortunately, a youth secondary may not be up to task against the Ravens receivers.

For the love of God, someone please cover Kyle Juszczyk in the flat! I am sick of watching him get first downs and touchdowns in the flat. It is so predictable. JUST SICK OF IT!

All said, here is my prediction:

Matt Stevenson (2016 Record: 0-0): Ravens 34, Browns 18

The Cleveland Browns host the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday’s home opener after an embarrassing loss in Week 1. Robert Griffin III is out and Josh McCown is in. McCown’s experience with the Browns offense will improve the offense in Week 2, however the defense simply isn’t apt to go up against the Ravens offense.

Joe Flacco has legitimate weapons in Steve Smith Jr., Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace this season while the Browns defensive back situation remains a mess. Offensively, Cleveland will execute better and Gary Barnidge will certainly not drop another egg. In the end, it won’t be enough for the Browns to beat the Ravens in their home opener, losing 34-18.

Steven Kubitza (2016 record: 0-1): Ravens 27, Browns 17

I want to pick the Browns. I really want to. It’s just not realistic after last Sunday’s dud of an opener.

The offense is going to look better under Josh McCown, but it is not going to be enough to beat a Ravens team that held the Buffalo Bills to seven points a week ago. Considering the Browns only put up 10 against the Eagles, picking them to score 17 is still a stretch.

Next: Storylines to watch vs. Ravens

Hue Jackson has a tall task ahead, but McCown being the quarterback should help with the development of the young players on offense, while the young defense will get a major test against the Ravens. But after getting torched by Carson Wentz in his NFL debut, expectations are low against Joe Flacco.