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Preston’s preview: Key matchup, what’s a stake for Ravens-Browns, plus checking in on Joe Flacco

Key matchup

The interior lines of the Browns vs. the interior lines of the Ravens: This is true in every game, but more so in this one because both teams have dominating defensive lines and suspect offensive lines. The Browns are averaging only 89 rushing yards per game and have weak tackles in Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard. The Ravens have struggled getting a consistent pass rush this season, but outside linebackers Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee should have good games against the Cleveland tandem. On the other side, the Browns have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and their ends, Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, are both quick and dangerous. Ravens offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. are certainly better than Robinson and Hubbard, but they will struggle with Garrett and Vernon. The Browns also have Sheldon Richardson at defensive tackle, and he’ll cause problems in the middle for the Ravens.

What’s at stake

The winner of this game will emerge with at least a half-game lead in the AFC North race and it’s the first division game for both teams. After Sunday’s game, the Browns have a tough stretch coming up, traveling to face the San Francisco 49ers, then hosting the Seattle Seahawks, followed by a bye week before traveling to face the New England Patriots. If the Ravens win, they could take command in the division early because they travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers next week before hosting the Cincinnati Bengals.

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What’s on the radar

Former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked 11 times this season with the winless Denver Broncos (0-3) and is on pace to get dumped 59 times before the year is over. The Broncos will face the Jacksonville on Sunday, and the Jaguars are tied with New England for the league lead in sacks (13). Flacco has completed 76 of 110 passes for 773 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Broncos are averaging only 15.3 points per game, third worst in the NFL.

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