Previewing today's Ravens home opener vs. the Cleveland Browns
Aaron Wilson: As the Ravens (0-1) host the Cleveland Browns (0-1) on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, here's a checklist of key areas and players to watch:
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1. Will the defense bounce back?( Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun / September 5, 2013 )
It's hard to imagine the Ravens defense not playing markedly better Sunday after a disturbingly bad season debut against the Denver Broncos in which they surrendered seven touchdown passes to Peyton Manning and 510 yards of total offense.
Rarely does an NFL team not improve from the first week to the second.
Rarely does a team with a front seven with as much talent as the Ravens, including outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, nose tackle Haloti Ngata and defensive tackle Chris Canty, have consecutive substandard performances.
The secondary is the primary culprit, afflicted by shoddy tackling and coverage breakdowns. With the exception of cornerback Lardarius Webb, the entire secondary struggled against the Broncos.
Free safety Michael Huff played badly enough in his first regular-season start since joining the team that people are already clamoring for the Ravens to replace him with rookie first-round draft pick Matt Elam.
The Browns aren't anywhere close to the Broncos' caliber, though.
They allowed six sacks and quarterback Brandon Weeden was intercepted three times during a 23-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins to open the season.
The Ravens could exploit the presence of Browns right offensive guard Oniel Cousins.
The 2008 Ravens third-round draft pick was penalized four times against the Dolphins, twice for holding, once for illegal hands to the face and once for a false start. One holding penalty nullified a touchdown.
Since the arrival of coach John Harbaugh in 2008, the Ravens have won all 10 games against the Browns and outscored them 251-122 during that streak.