Time: Sunday, September 30, 1:00 PM
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium
Network, Announcers: CBS- Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
Line: Ravens by four-and-a-half
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is a deeply unimpressive 1-2; Baltimore is a deeply unimpressive 2-1.
Coaches: Romeo Crennel is 11-24 in his third season, with one of his two division wins against the Ravens, in 2005; Brian Billick is 77-54 in his ninth season with the Ravens.
Last Week for the Browns: Lost in hideously ugly fashion, 26-24, to the lowly Raiders
Last Week for the Raiders: Won in hideously ugly fashion, 26-23, over the lowly Cardinals.
All-Time Series: Baltimore leads, 11-5, including a sweep of last season’s series.
Last Meeting: December 17, 2006- Cleveland’s denuded secondary made Kyle Boller took good, allowing the former Cal Bear and first-round bust to pile up 238 passing yards and two scores in a 27-17 Baltimore victory.
Out or Questionable for Baltimore: DT Trevor Pryce (ankle), and CB Samari Rolle (illness) are out; WR Mark Clayton (calf), WR Demetrius Williams (heel), T Jonathon Ogden (toe), and TE Daniel Wilcox (ankle) are questionable
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: WR Tim Carter (knee), LB Antwan Peek (foot), DT Orpheus Roye (knee), TE Kellen Winslow (shoulder), S Gary Baxter (knees), LB Willie McGinest (back), and P Dave Zastudil (back) are questionable
What to watch for the Ravens: their rush defense. Baltimore has allowed the fewest yards, the fourth-fewest rushing attempts, and the second-lowest yards-per-carry in the league, and is one of four NFL teams to have not given up a rushing touchdown so far. The Ravens should have extra motivation for this one, as they’ll be facing Jamal Lewis’ the team’s all-time leading rusher.
What to watch for the Browns: Derek Anderson. With Cleveland’s chances of establishing the run game not particularly promising, it will be up to the former Raven practice-squad player to exploit Baltimore’s mediocre pass defense, which was lit up by Kurt Warner last week. DA started the game in Baltimore last December and threw for 223 yards, but also tossed two interceptions in Cleveland’s 27-17 loss. He’ll have to do better this time around.
Good Past Win over the Ravens: Week One, 2004- Butch Davis’s Browns had been gashed for 500 rushing yards by Jamal Lewis in two lopsided Baltimore wins during the 2003 season, but on the opening Sunday of ’04, the Browns defense rose up, holding J-Lew to 57 yards on 20 carries. Jeff Garcia broke a 3-3 third-quarter tie with a 46-yard touchdown bomb to Quincy Morgan, and Cleveland went on to a dominating 20-3 victory, the most lopsided ever over the Ravens.
Bad Past Loss to the Ravens: Sunday night, October 7, 2002- The Browns deflated a loud crowd at CBS by falling behind to the Ravens, 23-0. Tim Couch was buried for a safety and suffered a concussion; after the game, he complained bitterly about the fans that had cheered when he was crumpled in the end zone. Behind Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns and moved to Baltimore’s 17 on its final possession, but Edward Reed saved the game for the Ravens with an end-zone interception. The 26-21 loss was one of the uglier in new Browns history- and that’s saying something.
Next Week for Both Teams: Cleveland is at New England; Baltimore is at San Francisco
Trivia: Out of left field with some general Cleveland-Baltimore trivia- the first postseason victory by a Cleveland team came in 1895, when the Spiders defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the Temple Cup, a best-of-seven series between the first and second-place teams in the National League. Totally unrelated to football, granted, but it’s an illustration of how long these two cities have been butting heads in pro sports.