3 matchups to watch as Cleveland Browns face off against Ravens
Lamar Jackson vs. Browns defensive line
This is the toughest matchup for every team every time Baltimore plays because Jackson is the most dynamic playmaker in the game. Not very many teams have had success stopping him, but it is possible.
It starts with the defensive line and it doesn’t even require them to make the play. They have to stay in their lane and move as a unit to keep Jackson from hurting them running the ball. The biggest responsibility is on the defensive ends to set the edge.
The ends must stay home and force Jackson back to the inside where there is more defenders converge to tackle him. The Ravens run a lot of misdirection plays that can make the defense chase players without the ball while Jackson takes off behind them.
The Browns had a small level of success last time these teams played. Jackson had rushed for 66 yards but averaged seven yards per carry. However, that was with Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon setting the edge, and Cleveland will likely be without both this time.
That puts the spotlight on Chad Thomas and Porter Gustin, who have played well but might not be up to the challenging looks they will see from Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
The Browns will need the inside of their defensive line to be more disruptive and they are capable. Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson have been some of the most consistent players on this defense all season and can have a huge impact on the run and the pass.
They have to contain Jackson in the running game because if they don’t, it makes it harder to stop the pass. When Baltimore gets the run going you have to sell out to stop it, but that opens up the pass.
If the defensive line can help get some stops early in the game and force Baltimore to play from behind, that will make their job a lot easier.