Week nine of the NFL Season is underway, and puts the AFC North division leading Baltimore Ravens traveling to Cleveland to take on the Browns in a division rival matchup. The Ravens are coming off of their bye week, while the Browns are coming off of a week eight 7-6 victory of the San Diego Chargers.
It is hard to decide who is the bigger opponent for the Ravens on Sunday, the Browns or the road. It is no secret how badly the Ravens have struggled on the road thus far this season, and more specifically the offense and Joe Flacco. Baltimore is 1-2 on the road this season averaging just 266.33 total yards per game, with Flacco averaging 188.67 passing yards per game; however, on the flip side the Ravens are 4-0 at home averaging 421.75 total yards per game, with Flacco averaging 317.75 passing yards per game. Baltimore has been historically good coming off of a bye week under coach John Harbaugh, and Ravens fans hope history repeats itself, especially coming off the horrendous loss to Houston two weeks ago. Ray Rice should see a heavy work load this weekend as the Ravens seem to steer away from the run on the road and is an obvious adjustment that needs to be made. Cleveland is a team that Baltimore is supposed to beat whether at home or on the road, but so were the Kansas City Chiefs and the Ravens barely squeaked bye with a 9-6 victory in week 5…..on the road. We will see what kind of adjustments the Ravens' coaching staff has made after the bye week to make this team more efficient on the road.
As mentioned before, the Cleveland Browns are coming off of a victory over the San Diego Chargers in a hard fought, terrible weather 7-6 game, and have won two of their last three. Baltimore's struggling rush defense is going to be tested this Sunday as Cleveland rookie running back Trent Richardson has solidified himself as the real deal and has rushed for 100+ yards twice this season, but had a career high 122 rushing yards last week with a touchdown and averages 84.88 total yards per game and has six touchdowns on the season. This game should show us just how big of an impact the return of Terrell Suggs will have in the rush defense. The Ravens secondary is also in for a tough test with Cleveland's 29-year old rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has become much more consistent and found a deep threat in the emerging WR Josh Gordon, who has bursted on the scene with 286 receiving yards and four touchdowns over the last four games for Cleveland.
This AFC North division rival matchup will most likely live up to the norm for AFC North divisional games as a tough, hard fought game that will likely come down to the fourth quarter, but Ravens fans would love to see Baltimore's offense show up on the road and win the game comfortably.
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