The Baltimore Ravens (3-4) are set to take on the Cleveland Browns (3-5) on Sunday afternoon for the second time this season. The game will be played at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio at 4:25 pm ET on CBS.
The two teams met in Baltimore in Week 2 and the Ravens walked away with a 14-6 win. But after the game in Baltimore, the Browns hit their stride and started to turn their season around, so the Ravens are not facing the same team they faced earlier in the season.
Here’s a look at how the Ravens can defeat the division rival.
Use the running backs
Week after week, the Ravens say they need to focus on fixing the run game. Ray Rice has not been the Pro Bowl running back that the Ravens have relied on since 2008. Bernard Pierce has been struggling from a hamstring injury recently. But the Ravens have made some adjustments that could bring the run game back to the dominant force that it has been over the past few seasons.
The team signed former Cincinnati Bengals running back Bernard Scott on Monday, adding more versatility to the Ravens run game.
Between Rice, Pierce, and Scott, the Ravens have numerous options for running the ball. But the running backs could also be used as reliable receivers for quarterback Joe Flacco, especially Rice. With Rice’s agility and low center of balance, he can easily escape linebackers as a receiver.
Stop the Browns’ run game
When the Ravens played the Browns in September, they faced running back Trent Richardson. With Richardson now playing for the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens are facing a mediocre run game.
Former Ravens running back Willis McGahee has taken over Richardson’s position, but the run game is still struggling.
The Browns run game is an ideal matchup for the Ravens to face. The team should easily be able to shut down the run game and focus more on the pass rush as well as covering receivers downfield.
Trust in the quarterback
After Joe Flacco inked the highest-paying contract in the NFL earlier this season, he has not seemed to meet the expectations of many football fans. But the quarterback has struggled to put up record-setting numbers.
The quarterback has been very limited so far this season. But he has been working with a patchy offensive line, struggling running backs, and inconsistent receivers. Flacco needs to restore his game to what it was last season.
Flacco has had two games where he has been forced to throw fifty or more passes. Lowering Flacco’s passing statistics is key to a Ravens win on Sunday.