It is only Week 4 and the Cleveland Browns are already finishing up their first leg of the blood and guts division for 2023. The Baltimore Ravens come to Cleveland licking their wounds from a home loss to the Colts in Week 3. With first place in the division on the line, the Browns are also looking to put a bow on the first quarter of the season before they head into their bye week.
It’s a battle of 2-1 teams looking to establish their identities in the AFC North. The Ravens are in the middle of revamping their passing attack under their new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The Browns are transitioning their offensive approach as well in the wake of the Nick Chubb season ending injury.
If the same version of the Browns defense that has shown up the first three weeks of the season shows up on Sunday, this game could get ugly. If not, it could be a long bye week. Here are three matchups that need to go in the Browns favor to finish the first quarter of the season 3-1.
3 Pivotal matchups the Browns need to win against the Ravens
Matchup No. 3: Za’Darius Smith vs. Morgan Moses
In the wake of Myles Garrett reminding the football watching world that he is in fact ‘Him’, it could be Cleveland’s other elite edge defender that takes over the game on Sunday. With Garrett getting the vast majority of Baltimore’s attention, and deservedly so, Za’Darius Smith will be the beneficiary of the respect paid to his All-Pro teammate.
Ravens right tackle, Morgan Moses, will draw the assignment of blocking Smith while all their tight ends, and fullback Patrick Ricard, do their level best to get in Garrett’s way. While Smith has yet to notch any sacks on the young season, he's tied with Garrett winning 27 percent of his pass rush reps.
There's also the added fuel for Smith going up against the team that drafted him back in 2015. If Moses is truly left on an island with him this Sunday, Smith will get home on Jackson more than once.