Game Preview: Ravens Prepared For A ‘Dogfight’

Terrell Suggs said the Browns are the kind of fighter you avoid at all costs.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 at 11:11 am | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Week 13 vs Browns

The Ravens are in a familiar situation entering Sunday’s game in Cleveland to the three they lost earlier this season – coming off a huge win, on the road, against a sub-.500 team.

But there’s one major difference.

Baltimore knows exactly what it’s in store for.

This isn’t the Titans, Jaguars or Seahawks. This is the Browns, a longtime AFC North rival.

“It’s always a dogfight,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s never going to change. It’s going to be just like playing the Steelers, just like playing the Bengals in that sense. We’re very tuned into that.”

The Ravens have beaten the Browns in six straight meetings. They haven’t lost to Cleveland since the beginning of the Harbaugh era.

Baltimore has won four of the last five in Cleveland, a place known for being difficult to play in considering the harsh weather (rain and wind is expected on Sunday) and a rabid fan base.

The Browns are 4-7, but perhaps better than their record. Their last two losses – to St. Louis and Cincinnati – have both come in part due to bad field goal snaps in the fourth quarter.

When it comes to the Browns, however, the record doesn’t matter.

“If you were a fighter, this is the fighter you avoid at all costs because he is always going to fight you hard, and he is always going to fight you for the 12 rounds,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

“They have always had a special thing to play us. They are going to bring it.”

3 Matchups To Watch

OLB Terrell Suggs vs. LT Joe Thomas
Fresh off a three-sack performance and AFC Defensive Player of the Week award, Suggs will go up against the 6-foot-6, 312-pounder. Suggs said he considers Thomas to be a top-three tackle in the NFL. “We always have battles when we go up against each other,” he said.

LB Jameel McClain vs. RB Peyton Hillis
The key to stopping the Browns’ running game is slowing down Hillis. He hasn’t been as beastly this year as he was last, and the Ravens want to keep it that way. If Ray Lewis can’t play, it will again be partly up to McClain, who helped hold San Francisco’s Frank Gore to just 39 rushing yards last Thursday.

S Ed Reed vs. QB Colt McCoy
Reed picked off McCoy twice in their first-ever meeting last year in Cleveland, making the difference in a 20-10 victory. Reed has more interceptions (10), interception return yardage (356), interceptions returned for touchdowns (3) and passes defensed (18) against the Browns than any other opponent.

3 Questions To Answer

Can the Ravens conquer their demon?
The Ravens say they have put their three losses behind them, but fans and pundits won’t forget about it until they end the streak of losing to sub-.500 teams, on the road, following momentum-building wins. Baltimore has four straight games against losing teams coming up, so they’ll need to get over it.

Will the Ravens continue pounding the rock?
The Browns have the top-ranked pass defense in the league and have the 29th run defense. Also, as the weather turns colder, many teams turn more to the run game. So looking only at those factors, one would think Cleveland will see a heavy dose of running back Ray Rice. But who knows?

Will Ray Lewis play?
It’s the first question on everybody’s mind. Lewis has missed the past two games with a toe turf injury, but the Ravens have still pulled out two victories, including with a dominant defensive performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Lewis is listed as questionable after not practicing all week.

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