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Judging by their first two performances this season, things are not looking good for the Ravens’ next opponent, the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have been beaten handily en route to an 0-2 record – 34-20 by the Minnesota Vikings and 27-6 by the Denver Broncos.
They have allowed nine sacks, second-most in the NFL. They have not generated one turnover. And, quarterback Brady Quinn owns a 66.9 passer rating.
At this point, Cleveland’s offense is in the league’s cellar, averaging 234.0 yards per game, which the defense allows 379.5 yards a week (25th).
But the Ravens do not easily fall into the trap of what is sometimes called a “trap game.” While head coach John Harbaugh’s squad takes all opponents seriously, the fact that this Sunday’s matchup is an AFC North battle makes it even more important to both the Browns and Ravens.
“A division game is just critical,” Harbaugh noted. “It counts for a game-plus, because that gives you a tiebreaker advantage in your division, puts a loss on a divisional opponent, and the first thing you play for is the divisional championship.
“We know what kind of talent they have, what kind of team they are, and we know what’s at stake for them. They’re going to be coming in here and doing everything possible to win this game.”
Linebacker Ray Lewis called the Browns a “desperate team,” considering how the other clubs around the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, have excelled this year.
“I know Cleveland is going to be definitely a desperate team,” Lewis said. “You know, going down 0-3 in our division is not a good thing. That’s why I know they’re going to come out and give us their best game. I know he’s going to be fired up to come in and try to get 100 yards and all that good stuff. So, the bottom line is for us to just come in and play our type of defense, play our type of football and hopefully get another win and go to 3-0.”
Should the Ravens advance to 3-0, it would only be the second time in franchise history (2006) that has happened.
But history is not necessarily on Baltimore’s side.
The Ravens boast a 13-7 in the overall series between these two rivals, but no team has ever won three consecutive times over the other out of 20 meetings. The Ravens currently own a two-game winning streak.
Still, Baltimore’s players and coaches are not worrying about history, not even the Browns’ unfortunate history over the first two weeks of the season. They are taking Cleveland very seriously.
“Any time you play a division opponent it’s going to be a tough game, and they’re going to come in here ready to play,” stated quarterback Joe Flacco. “We are going to have to make sure that we come out ready early on in the game and really give them our game.”