coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/09/2013 01:07 PM in NFL

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens: Preview and Pick

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens: Preview and Pick

The Baltimore Ravens have had a long wait to try and get over the opening night demolition at the hands of the Denver Broncos. In week two they will get their chance at redemption against the division rival Cleveland Browns. With both teams entering this game with a loss it will be a must win in division early in the season.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Ravens listed as (6) point favorites. That line quickly adjusted to the heavy public betting action and is now found at (6.5) at several of the top rated sportsbooks. Don’t be surprised if this number goes even higher as 94 percent of the public is all over the Ravens in this battle.

The Cleveland Browns lost in the first game of the season to the Miami Dolphins, but the loss is not as bad as it seems. They actually out gained the Dolphins in this game in total yardage at 291-275 and if they had executed better on third down they could have easily left with the win. The Browns were just 1 for 14 on third downs which could be expected for a team that is learning a new offense.

Brandon Weeden found a safety blanket in tight end Jordan Cameron and once they get the hang of this offense this team could be deadly. The defense excelled at stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback, two things that will come in handy against the Ravens and Joe Flacco.

Flacco and Ray Rice looked good in the opener, but it was the defense that struggled as the secondary was torched against Peyton Manning.

The NFL betting trends unveil some interesting tidbits for this game. Cleveland is 3-7 against the spread (ATS) in its last 10 games when playing Baltimore and 1-14 straight up in its last 15 games on the road. Baltimore is 18-2 straight up in its last 20 games at home, although this is a much different team than in years past. The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Baltimore's last 5 games when playing Cleveland and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of Cleveland's last 5 games on the road.

The Ravens will need to have a much better performance on defense if they hope to avoid starting the season off in a 0-2 hole. The loser of this game will have a difficult time winning the division.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/10/2013 05:08 PM

- The Browns won't make a change at right guard even though Oniel Cousins struggled mightily in the season opener, according to ESPN Radio in Cleveland. Cousins committed four penalties Sunday. “Oniel has gotten the majority of the reps," coach Rob Chudzinski said. "It’s important that the guy getting the reps gives you the best chance. I’m confident in him."

- Chudzinski defended the Browns' decision to give running back Trent Richardson 13 carries in the season opener, including five in the second half. "We want to give him the ball as much as we can," Chudzinski said, via The Plain Dealer. "I thought in the first half we had a pretty good mix going there, even into the third quarter. We had a lot of two-minute situations yesterday, one at the end of the half and obviously in the fourth quarter. The key is we have to convert on third down and we’ll get plenty more opportunities to get the ball to Trent as well."

- Asked if quarterback Brandon Weeden is on a short leash under a regime that did not draft him, Chudzinski told the Canton Repository, “I don’t look at it as a leash. These guys are developing players and they’re learning how to play in this system and I expect us to keep getting better and improving.''


After yielding an NFL-record tying seven touchdowns to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the Ravens have a laundry list of issues they’re working on in the secondary. Head Coach John Harbaugh pointed to scheme issues, poor fundamentals (especially under pressure), and communication problems. “That kind of performance – in the end – is never going to be acceptable,” Harbaugh said. “We’re capable of playing far better than that and we have to.”

The Ravens’ scheme issues, Harbaugh said, are a coaching issue. He said the Ravens need to make sure they’re running plays and the plays are being taught in such a way that they can be executed quickly. Opposing offenses, especially Denver’s, pick up the tempo, and the Ravens defense can’t be caught out of position or with the wrong personnel groupings.

Then there are the fundamentals, such as tackling. The Ravens gave up 259 yards after the catch, more than any defense had allowed in a single game over the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Broncos’ first touchdown was set up by a 44-yard gain by tight end Julius Thomas after safety Michael Huff could have stopped him after 14 yards. Huff went in high to try to make an arm tackle against the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Thomas.

Denver’s final touchdown, wiping out Baltimore’s chance at a comeback, came off a bubble screen to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas went untouched for 78 yards when rookie safety Matt Elam got sucked inside and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Michael Huff were blocked out of the play.

“Our issue was the big plays,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t give up a screen for a touchdown. That’s just not acceptable. You can’t leave guys wide open. You can’t miss tackles that turn into big plays.”

Another problem was communication, which is somewhat understandable considering the Ravens had two new starting safeties and cornerback Lardarius Webb was playing in his first regular-season game since Week 6 of last season.

Wes Welker was left wide open for a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter when Graham and Webb were both left covering Thomas. Harbaugh said they were playing techniques. Graham put it on his shoulders, saying he locked in on the No. 1 receiver and didn’t see that he needed to make a switch.

Graham didn’t attribute the communication issues to not having Ray Lewis and Ed Reed barking at the defense. He simply said that with so many new pieces, the unit will have to grow together. “It takes time,” Graham said. “Anything in football takes time, especially when you’re trying to get 11 people to be on the same page at once.”

Despite all the negatives the secondary did play well in spurts. It did a solid job against Manning in the first half. Overall, the Ravens gave up 309 yards passing on just seven plays. Manning’s 153 other passing yards came on the other 67 plays.

“We believe we’re capable of being a very good football team,” Harbaugh said. “But we’ve got to make it happen.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/11/2013 04:34 PM

And now for one of the worst deals in history....... Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh trades Anquan Boldin to his brother for a sixth-round draft pick.

A SIXTH-ROUND PICK! You usually can't get a blocking sled for a sixth-round pick! Just to repeat: Older brother John gave younger brother Jim his best receiver a month after beating him in the Super Bowl. Did he feel that bad?

And in week 1: The Ravens go into Denver, a team they beat last season in the playoffs with Boldin, and get splattered without him, 49-27. The 49ers host the Packers and beat them 34-28 behind Boldin's THIRTEEN catches for 208 yards.

Sure, the Ravens said they had to let Boldin go. Why? Because he wouldn't take a $2 million per year pay cut. Just to repeat: They wanted the guy who helped lead them to a world championship to take a $2 million pay cut!

And what did the Ravens do with all the money they saved on Boldin? They spent it on defense. That defense then went to Denver and gave up the most points in franchise history.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/12/2013 02:57 PM

Browns running back Trent Richardson stressed that he's 100% behind the coaching staff, but also said, "we've got to stick to our game plan.'' Richardson rushed only five times for 14 yards in the second half of the 23-10 loss to Miami, and 13 times for 47 yards overall. He didn't carry the ball at all in the fourth quarter after the Browns fell behind.

"I just don't think they stopped the running game,'' he said. "I think we stopped it ourselves as far as just we were behind and stuff like that and we've just got to keep fighting and know that no matter what, we've got to stick to our gameplan. I guess coach had another gameplan and it went that way.'' Richardson added, "I just thought we were going to run the ball. I thought it was going to be a real good day. I just knew that if we could run the ball on any team, I feel like it's going to be a fight down to the finish and we're going to win.''

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said today that he hoped to get Richardson at least 20 carries in the game, but that the score dictated the second-half play calling. "We executed four or five plays well and then they hit us with a couple of run blitzes and we didn't execute as well,'' said Turner. "If we had gotten him his --what I'd like to see him in that 20 or a little over 20 carries -- I think he would've had more production.''

Richardson said he talked to both Turner and coach Rob Chudzinski about the running game fizzling out and that Turner stressed it wasn't supposed to go like that. "I know coach (Turner) felt like he let me down and it's not that,'' Richardson said. "I'm behind coach 100%. And I know we were behind so he had to do what he had to do to put points on the board.''

He said he and Turner were on the same page during their discussion. "I told coach, 'it's fine coach. I know we had a game plan and when you get behind, it's hard to run the ball.'

Richardson said he also expected to play more on third down, but Turner said it's a process to work Richardson in more on third down, in part because he missed some time during training camp. "We want Trent on the field, there's some things he's ready to handle in that third-down package and there's some stuff that (Chris Ogbonnaya) is going to handle for awhile,'' said Turner. "He missed some time in camp. There's some things we want to use him on in there, and we're going to do it when we can.''

Said Richardson: "I was kind of surprised that I didn't play as much (on third down). But we had a good third-down back with (Chris Ogbonnaya) too. But it was kind of a shocker that I wasn't playing as much a I thought I was going to be on third down.''

Richardson said that for the Ravens game, "I just plan to do what coach tells me to do. Whatever he's got planned, I'm with it. Hopefully it is more touches. If it is or not, I just want to come out with a W.''

Richardson wants to carry the load and is certain he'll get the chance to do that. "It's something you practice for, that you prepare for, and all of my life I've been that guy,'' he said. "At the end of the day, I control what I can control, but if it's going to help the team out that I get less carries, if it's going to help the team out that I get more carries, I'm all for it. (But) I can't wait for that time to come when I'm going to get 25-plus reps.''

Bottom line: Richardson isn't criticizing the coaching staff, but wishes the Browns had stuck with the run in the second half against the Dolphins. He's not alone. Turner, who loves running backs and the power game, wanted to get him 20-plus carries, but falling behind in the game took him elsewhere. The two have talked about it and they're on the same page: Richardson wants to carry the load, and Turner wants him to. They're both hoping to be able to make that happen in the future, including on third down.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/13/2013 05:35 PM

The Cleveland Browns kept coming in waves at Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, blitzing him on nearly half of his dropbacks last Sunday and also harassing him when they rushed just four of their front seven. The Browns sacked him four times, hit him three additional times and hurried him on a handful of other plays.

It was just one game, but new Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s fingerprints were easy to identify.

Horton, who worked wonders with the Arizona Cardinals defense last season, came to Cleveland this past offseason after Arizona chose to hire Bruce Arians as its head coach over Horton, a favorite of Cardinals players. The hiring of Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator has been hailed as a fantastic move by new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, but bringing the attack-minded Horton into the fold may be just as significant.

Defensive players love playing for coaches with confidence and swagger. Browns outside linebacker Paul Kruger expressed his fondness for Horton and his schemes on Wednesday. “Ray Horton is one of those guys who I was really quickly able to look up to and learn from. He’s been a tremendous coach, and I really like his style of defense,” said Kruger, who had nine sacks for the Ravens last season. “We run a similar defense [to the Ravens]. There’s always going to be little differences and tweaks here and there. This is an attack-style defense.”

Against the Dolphins, the Browns sent five or more pass rushers at Tannehill on 20 of his 43 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. To his credit, the second-year quarterback was quick to identify the rushers on those blitzes and fire the ball to his hot receivers. They had more success when they didn’t blitz, often generating a pass rush with their front four.

All four of Cleveland's sacks came when they didn't blitz. Kruger beat the right tackle for one of those sacks. Defensive end Desmond Bryant, another pricy offseason signing, had two sacks as an interior rusher. Outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard also got pressure on Tannehill on a few of his rushes.

Overall, Tannehill completed just three of his 10 attempts when under pressure for 37 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Their front seven is definitely a strength of their team,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “They’re young and they’re very talented. They can get pressure with four guys or they can get pressure with stunts, blitzes and linebacker crosses, things like that. I feel like they do a good job of executing so it’s going to be on us to neutralize the strength of their team.”

Before joining the Cardinals as defensive coordinator in 2011, Horton spent seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers as their secondary coach. He clearly learned a thing or two about creating pressure from zone blitz mastermind Dick LeBeau.

Despite having one of the NFL's most inept offenses in 2012, the Cardinals were competitive in many games due to their defense, which had 38 sacks and forced 33 turnovers. The highlight came in Week 2, when Horton’s defense flustered New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in an upset victory. Brady was sacked four times and intercepted once.

“It’s the Pittsburgh scheme,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of the Browns defense. “Ray Horton has been in that system. He ran it in Arizona, and we see the same systems here, but they’re applying it to the players that they’ve got.”

The Browns held the Dolphins to 275 total yards, limited them to just 20 yards on 23 carries and bailed out the offense after quarterback Brandon Weeden threw three first-half picks.

“It’s an extremely talented group,” Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “They held the Dolphins to really, really low numbers in terms of the running game. When you look at them up front, they’re extremely talented. Their front seven is outstanding. [Nose tackle Phil] Taylor in the middle of that and [defensive end Ahtyba] Rubin in the middle obviously do a great job just in terms of making certain they stop the run.”

The Ravens have beaten up on the Browns over the past five years, and they will get an opportunity Sunday to get their offense on track after an inconsistent performance against the Denver Broncos last Thursday. Ray Rice has had a lot of success against the Browns and their secondary can be exploited. But the Browns probably aren’t going to make it easy for them, not with their talent up front and Horton calling aggressive plays.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/15/2013 08:38 AM

This line is based off the past and the fact that the Ravens have won ten straight. If you listened to the podacst (and you should) you would know that these teams have changed drastically, while the line has not. Browns have a chance at the upset.

Browns +6.5