Tonight’s NFL Thursday matchup pits the Baltimore Ravens fresh off a nice win over the New England Patriots against the reeling Cleveland Browns who are winless on the season and are catching the short week at a bad time.
Here is my BSO preview and key matchups.
1. Cut Trent Loose:
If the Browns are to have any shot at hanging around in this contest, yet alone winning, they must get Trent Richardson off to a good start. Richardson is averaging 3.5 yards a carry which isn’t that bad considering what he has to run behind. Richardson is coming off a 12 carry 27 yard performance against a buffalo defense that has nothing on the one he’ll face tonight.
Brandon Meet Ed:
Any game I preview involving the Raven will probably have me introducing the opposing quarterback to Ed Reed. It’s a must. You want to succeed as a passer against Baltimore, you must deal with the legend. Weeden is only completing 56.5% of percent of his passes and has a touchdown to interception ratio of 1-2. Weeden is a rookie and can be confused. Weeden can not be afraid of taking chances against Reed, but cannot be confused or baited by the best.
D’Qwell Jackson vs Ray Rice:
Mr. Jackson is one of the best defenders in football period. He may be the lone bright spot for the organization right now short of Joe Haden. Jackson last week alone had 5 total tackles and 3 sacks. The week prior he snagged a Vick laser headed down the middle to almost beat the Eagles. His matchup with Ray Rice tonight is worth the price of admission alone. In the trenches, Jackson should play Rice evenly if not have the advantage on run plays. It will be those moments on screens and flair route that will dictate the matchup. If Jackson can’t keep up with Rice it will be a long night for that Browns defensive as a whole.
Flacco vs Browns Secondary:
Joe Haden will not be in Baltimore to deal with Torrey Smith. The Browns were thin as a secondary before Haden’s suspension, and I’ll pay someone to name a Browns defensive back off the top of their head. It will be imperative for the secondary to communicate and stay focused when the Ravens go no huddle. Usama Young must be active at free safety, and the TJ Ward vs Dennis Pita will be key. Ward plays the run well, and Pita is becoming a fine receiving tight end. Look for Flacco to find any advantage he wants in the passing game tonight.
I’d be shocked if the Browns gave the Ravens a challenge in Baltimore. Crazier things have happened, but on a short week, down an important defensive player, The Browns can look forward to 10 days of recuperation until their next contest.