RAVENS PASSING GAME: Joe Flacco's 76.0 quarterback rating is the second worst among current NFL starters, bettering only Brock Osweiler of the Houston Texans. He's on pace to throw 12 touchdown passes, which would be a career low. Flacco wasn't sacked in the mid-September victory over the Cleveland Browns, but he has been taken down at least twice in every other game. Tight end Dennis Pitta caught nine passes for 102 yards against the Browns in Week 2. He has averaged under 35 yards receiving in six games since.
BROWNS PASSING GAME: Browns coach Hue Jackson is sticking with rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, rather than playing veteran Josh McCown, who has given the Ravens problems. Kessler, one of three quarterbacks to start for Cleveland this year, has played reasonably well given the circumstances, throwing five touchdowns and one interception. Wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman are nice building blocks and big-play threats. The Browns have allowed 26 sacks, the second most in the NFL.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The change at offensive coordinator has done nothing to invigorate the running game. One game after setting a franchise low with 11 rushing yards, the Ravens managed 50 yards on the ground on 29 attempts against the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the season, they are averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Only four teams are averaging fewer. In the past two games, Terrance West has 23 carries for 31 yards. If the Ravens can't run the ball against the Browns, their ground game is worse than imagined.
BROWNS RUNNING GAME: Isaiah Crowell has the Ravens' attention after his 85-yard touchdown run against them in the first meeting. Crowell gained only 48 total yards on his other 17 carries, but his first-quarter run was the longest the Ravens have allowed in franchise history. A ground game led by Crowell is third in the league with a 4.83 rushing average and fifth in the NFL with 33 rushing plays of 10 yards or more. Browns running back Duke Johnson is tied for second on the team with 36 receptions.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: After an uncharacteristic performance against the New York Jets, the Ravens smothered Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers. Pittsburgh had 36 rushing yards and averaged just 2.0 yards per carry. With the return of Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley, the Ravens set the edge better and were quicker to the ball. Allowing only 76.1 yards per game on the ground, the Ravens have the second-stingiest rushing defense in the league. Zachary Orr leads the team with 73 tackles.
BROWNS RUSH DEFENSE: Cleveland's defense has been a mess, prompting speculation, which Jackson denied, that coordinator Ray Horton's job is in jeopardy. The Browns contained the Ravens' running game in Week 2, but they haven't been able to stop almost anyone else. They are allowing 146.4 rushing yards per game, the second most in the NFL. They've also given up 12 rushing scores. Acquired from the New England Patriots last week, linebacker Jamie Collins should help.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Sacks still aren't coming frequently enough for the Ravens, but the team has found a nice mix in the secondary with Eric Weddle directing the defense from the safety spot and Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young and Jerraud Powers playing well at corner. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees had Smith shadow Terrelle Pryor for a half in the first meeting. It was rookie receiver Corey Coleman who hurt the Ravens most with two touchdowns. The Ravens have nine interceptions, tied for fourth most in the NFL.
BROWNS PASS DEFENSE: A spotty pass rush and a young secondary have not been a good combination for the Browns, who are allowing 275.2 passing yards per game. That ranks 23rd in the NFL. The Browns still have Joe Haden, who picked off Joe Flacco twice in the first meeting. But an injury to starting cornerback Jamar Taylor could force Tramon Williams into a bigger role. Cleveland is last in the NFL on third down (allowing a 49.1 percent conversion rate) and second last in red-zone defense (71.9 percent).
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Ravens' ability to block kicks — they have four this year and 12 since 2014 — isn't lost on the Browns. Young's two-point return of a Lawrence Guy blocked extra-point attempt keyed the Ravens' comeback from down 20 points against Cleveland in September. The Ravens also beat the Browns on Will Hill's return of a blocked field goal with no time on the clock last year. Justin Tucker has made 27 straight field-goal attempts dating to last year.
BROWNS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Browns have been dangerous in recent years on punt returns, but they haven't gotten a whole lot going this year and have struggled even more on kickoff returns. Cleveland's average of 17.2 yards per kickoff return is the third lowest in the NFL, and could prompt Ravens kicker Justin Tucker to try to land kickoffs right outside the goal line, forcing the Browns to return. Kicker Cody Parkey has missed four field goals this year, all in the 40- to 49-yard range.
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RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens are back at home and no longer burdened by a four-game losing streak. They didn't spend much time celebrating their victory over their archrival Steelers and there has been no indication that they are overlooking the winless Browns. The Ravens are 15-2 against the Browns in the John Harbaugh era, but nine of their past 10 victories over them have been decided by 10 points or fewer. The Ravens are plus-two in turnover ratio. Penalties remain a problem.
BROWNS INTANGIBLES: Jackson has done an admirable job in holding the Browns together and not succumbing to all the negativity that constant losing brings. The Browns were outclassed by the Dallas Cowboys last week, but four of their nine losses have been by six points or fewer. They've struggled mightily to finish. Cleveland has been outscored 135-51 in second halves and overtime this year. Overall, the Browns have lost 12 straight games and 19 of 20 since beating the Ravens in overtime on Oct. 11, 2015.
PREDICTION: It's hardly a surprise that this matchup isn't being embraced by a prime-time national television audience. The winless Browns are visiting at just the right time for the Ravens, who are coming off an emotional victory against the Steelers and can't afford a misstep against a deeply flawed opponent. The Browns won't be a pushover. They've given the Ravens trouble in recent matchups. I'd expect there to be some more anxious moments for the Ravens, but they'll find a way and remain in first place in the AFC North.