Prediction No. 3
Writer: Greg Newman
Game Cleveland Browns (0-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
The Cleveland Browns will come up just short in week one vs. the Baltimore Ravens.
After a strange offseason that limited practices and cut out the preseason, the NFL and the Cleveland Browns are set to start the regular season next Sunday. And while the NFL did the Browns no favors with a week one matchup vs. the Baltimore Ravens, fans are beyond excited to see what the team has to offer this year.
2019 was likely one of the most exciting offseasons in recent history for the Browns, which was followed up by one of the most disappointing results. After the general manager, John Dorsey added Olivier Vernon (defensive end), Sheldon Richardson (defensive tackle), and Odell Beckham (wide-receiver), many fans and experts had the Browns plugged in with 10 to 11 wins and a playoff berth.
Instead, the Browns would go a disappointing 6-10, which would cost the general manager and first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens their job. The task is certainly no easier in 2020, but the Browns appear to be under much stronger leadership with general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski.
The Baltimore Ravens come into the 2020 season as a top-three favorite to win the Super Bowl along with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. A strong rushing attack behind freak athlete Lamar Jackson and a stingy defense behind newly acquired Calais Campbell and rookie Patrick Queen will make both sides of the ball a challenge for the Browns.
Jackson has proven he can throw the ball, but there is no doubt he would prefer to keep it on the ground if possible. While some find this impossible in the NFL, he always appears to be the best athlete on the field making tacklers miss. The strength of the Browns defense is the front four, but the young linebackers will have to play lights out against the run to give the Browns a chance.
Baltimore’s defense has always been grueling to face, even when they don’t have the big-name players. Their system will try and put as much pressure on Baker Mayfield as possible and eliminate Nick Chubb. Stefanski must exert his will on the Ravens defense by continuing to pound the football. Once the ground game is rolling, Mayfield will be set up for success in the play-action pass game.
Unfortunately, the Ravens will be too much to handle for the Browns in week one. The biggest weakness that will be exposed will be the youth at linebacker. Look for misdirection and play action to be too much to handle and the Browns defense will give up one too many big plays to win the game. Stay positive fans the Browns keep this close at 31-24, and one of the toughest matchups of the year is out of the way.
Score Prediction: Baltimore 31, Cleveland 24