Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens
The Cleveland Browns will be looking to avoid moving one step closer to a dubious league record when they visit the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night (Enter Contest). The Browns not only are attempting to avoid matching the worst start in franchise history, but also end the chances of joining the Detroit Lions as the only team to finish 0-16.
One of the reasons the Browns are in this predicament is a 25-20 loss to Baltimore in Week 2, when they blew a 20-2 first-quarter lead. Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta had nine catches for 102 yards (both season highs) in that game. John Harbaugh’s team were mired in a slide of their own heading into their bye, but snapped a four-game skid with a 21-14 win over visiting Pittsburgh on Sunday. That victory moved Baltimore back to the .500 mark and, more importantly, into a tie with the Steelers atop the AFC North.
ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-9)
Cleveland has had a revolving door at quarterback, losing starter Robert Griffin III in the season opener and watching Josh McCown suffer a broken collarbone against the Ravens. While McCown returned to the lineup in a narrow loss to the New York Jets in Week 8, coach Hue Jackson went back to Cody Kessler on Sunday and will stick with the rookie Thursday despite a nondescript effort against the Cowboys. The Browns managed only 45 yards rushing versus Dallas, including four on six carries by Isaiah Crowell, who ran for a season-high 133 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since catching two TD passes against Baltimore. The Browns are yielding 421.7 yards and 30.3 points per game, each ranking 31st in the league.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (4-4)
Baltimore’s defense came up big in the win over bitter rival Pittsburgh, holding the Steelers to 277 total yards and 36 on the ground to build a 21-0 lead in the third quarter. There remain plenty of concerns over the offense, which produced one touchdown scored by wideout Mike Wallace. They’ve also labored on the ground, rushing for 50 yards on 29 carries. Baltimore ranks 28th in the league with 81.8 yards rushing per game and is averaging 2.2 yards per carry over the past three contests. It’s a full two yards less than in the first five games. Quarterback Joe Flacco has more interceptions (seven) than TD passes (six) and a paltry 76.0 passer rating. The Ravens have won 15 of the past 17 meetings, although Cleveland won at Baltimore last season.