While I think the Browns, who have a good defense, will put up a fight, picking an 11th consecutive win wouldn’t be very courageous of me. But I am willing to go out on a limb and make these four bold predictions for Sunday’s game.
1. THE DEFENSE WILL SCORE A TOUCHDOWN: The Ravens are sick of hearing about how their defense got picked apart in the 49-27 loss to the Broncos, a game in which quarterback Peyton Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes and averaged a ridiculous 10.6 yards per attempt. They will look to take their frustrations on Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, who threw three interceptions in a loss to the Miami Dolphins last weekend. The Ravens picked him off three times in two games last season, and I can see him being in a giving mood again this weekend. Whether it is an interception return or on a fumble, I see the defense scoring a touchdown somehow.
2. MARLON BROWN WILL TOP 100 RECEIVNG YARDS: The Browns have one of the NFL’s better cover cornerbacks in Joe Haden, who will likely shadow wide receiver Torrey Smith all afternoon. Haden held Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, another speedster, to just one catch for 15 yards last week. But Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill picked on Browns cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Chris Owens, who allowed 15 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. With Haden locked on Smith, look for Joe Flacco to find favorable matchups elsewhere. Brown, a rookie who is replacing the injured Jacoby Jones, should benefit with at least 100 receiving yards.
3. ELVIS DUMERVIL WILL GET TWO MORE SACKS: I correctly predicted last week that Dumervil would get a sack against his former team, one of the two predictions I nailed in this space last week. Let’s not talk about those other ones. Instead, I’ll point out that Dumervil had nine sacks in four career games against the Browns, including three games with multiple sacks. Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz got abused by Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake last week. I can see Dumervil doling out similar punishment this week, taking down Weeden for at least two sacks.
4. RAY RICE WILL GET INTO THE END ZONE TWICE: The Ravens are looking to get their running game going after struggling on the rare occasion they ran the ball last week. But the Browns probably aren’t going to make it easy for them. The Browns have a fierce front seven that includes former Ravens pass rusher Paul Kruger, and they held the Dolphins to 20 yards on 23 carries. I think Rice will have some success, though, and will punch one in at the goal line. I also think he will be a big factor in the passing game, scoring a receiving touchdown, too.