Today, 1 p.m. -- M&T; Bank Stadium-- Ch. 13 -- 1090 AM, 97.9 FM -- Line: Ravens by 11 1/2
Ravens run offense vs. Browns run defense
Jamal Lewis isn't as flashy as he used to be when he ran over the Browns for 200 yards a game. But he still runs hard and has the power to wear down defenses. In the previous meeting, Lewis gained 86 yards at Cleveland, one of four times he has eclipsed 80 yards this season. The Ravens will attack Cleveland's run defense after the Browns surrendered 303 yards on the ground to Pittsburgh. With the third-worst run defense in the NFL, Cleveland has allowed seven 100-yard rushers in the past 11 games. Already missing defensive end Orpheus Roye, the Browns also will play without inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland), the team's second-leading tackler.
Ravens pass offense vs. Browns pass defense
The Ravens are the only AFC team to have three receivers with at least 55 catches (tight end Todd Heap and wide receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton). Clayton is coming off his third 100-yard game of the season, which leads the Ravens. Committed to being efficient on offense, the Ravens have not allowed a sack or thrown an interception in their past three games. Leigh Bodden, the Browns' best cornerback, hasn't been at full strength since injuring both ankles earlier this season. Cleveland has only 23 sacks this season (tied for 25th in the NFL), and its best pass rusher, Kamerion Wimbley, likely will face Jonathan Ogden. In their past three games, the Browns have given up eight passing touchdowns and have made two interceptions. Mike Anderson will replace Musa Smith (neck) as the team's third-down back for a second straight game.
Browns run offense vs. Ravens run defense
With a young quarterback, the Browns will be committed to running the ball. But running back Reuben Droughns has been extremely disappointing this season, averaging less than 3 yards a carry in four of his past five games. Left guard Joe Andruzzi (knee) is doubtful, meaning the Browns might have to start rookie Isaac Sowells. Cleveland already has backup Kelly Butler starting at right tackle for Ryan Tucker (mental disorder). The Ravens gave up their first 100-yard rusher with linebacker Ray Lewis in the lineup last Sunday, but they still rank second in the NFL against the run. They have not allowed a rushing touchdown in four games.
Browns pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense
Derek Anderson, a sixth-round draft pick by the Ravens in 2005, is likely to make his second career start because Charlie Frye is still wearing a splint on his bruised right wrist. Anderson has been sacked only once in six quarters. The Ravens are second in the league with 46 sacks, including 5 1/2 by defensive end Trevor Pryce in the past four games. Tight end Kellen Winslow, Cleveland's top weapon in the passing game, caught seven passes for 92 yards in his last meeting against the Ravens. Since then, the Ravens have limited San Diego's Antonio Gates, Atlanta's Alge Crumpler and Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez to nine catches for 88 yards.
The Ravens are hoping for increased productivity out of return specialist Cory Ross, who is playing his second game in place of the injured B.J. Sams. The Browns' return game has been one of the few bright spots this season. Joshua Cribbs is ninth in the NFL in kickoff returns (25.6-yard average) and is one of six players this season to return a kickoff for a touchdown. Dennis Northcutt, who is questionable with a shoulder injury, is fourth in the league in punt returns (11.6). Browns kicker Phil Dawson is 14-for-14 on career field goals against the Ravens. Matt Stover leads the AFC in field-goal accuracy (91.3 percent).
The Ravens can clinch a playoff berth with a victory, and the Browns were eliminated from the postseason last week. Since 2000, the Ravens are tied with the Denver Broncos for the best home record in the NFL (40-14). Over that same time, the Ravens have allowed 15.1 points per game at home, the fewest in the NFL. Cleveland hasn't played since getting routed by the Steelers, 27-7, on Dec. 7.
The last time the Ravens were double-digit favorites, they struggled to win in Tennessee. But the Ravens are now fixed on clinching a playoff berth today as well as the pursuit of a first-round bye. Barring some Ravens turnovers, this one should be a blowout.