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Ravens-Browns scouting report

Ravens-Browns scouting report
Ravens running back Buck Allen (37) looks for room as he runs into fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) during a fourth quarter play near the goal line. The Ravens lost to the Browns, 33-30, in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium. (Christopher T. Assaf / Baltimore Sun)

Analysis of the offense, defense, special teams and intangibles in Ravens-Browns.

PASSING GAME:

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RAVENS: Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that the offense won't change much now that it's Matt Schaub, and not Joe Flacco, taking the snaps. Schaub, who hasn't started a game since 2013, doesn't have the arm strength or pocket presence that Flacco has, so expect offensive coordinator Marc Trestman to emphasize a short passing game as part of a ground-based attack. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk and the Ravens tight ends will all likely be heavily involved.

BROWNS: Coach Mike Pettine's decision to bench quarterback Johnny Manziel and start Josh McCown following his latest off-the-field antics wasn't necessarily good news for the Ravens. McCown threw for 457 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a another score in the Browns' 33-30 overtime victory at M&T Bank Stadium in October. Tight end Gary Barnidge, who had 139 receiving yards in that first game, remains Cleveland's top target. Browns quarterbacks have been sacked an NFL-leading 36 times. (EDGE: BROWNS)

RUNNING GAME

RAVENS: Justin Forsett collected 121 of the team's 181 rushing yards against the Browns' porous rushing defense in the first matchup. Forsett's season is over because of a broken arm, and rookie Buck Allen has inherited lead running back duties. Allen ran hard and had 115 all-purpose yards against the St. Louis Rams. He struggles in blitz pickup, which could force the Ravens to lean on Juszczyk in one-back sets. Terrance West (Towson) should make his Ravens debut.

BROWNS: The Browns have two versatile and talented running backs in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, but still have struggled to do anything on the ground all year. They are second to last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (75.6), yards per carry (3.3) and rushing touchdowns (two). They've gone five straight weeks without a rushing touchdown, and their only rushing touchdown by a running back came in Week 2. Johnson is fifth among NFL backs in receiving yards. (EDGE: RAVENS)

RUSH DEFENSE

RAVENS: The Ravens have been pretty solid all year against the run, but the group was spectacular last week in shutting down Rams rookie phenom Todd Gurley. He averaged 2.6 rushing yards on 25 carries. The Ravens are allowing 97 rushing yards per game, 12th in the NFL. In their first meeting witht eh Ravens this season, the Browns gained 83 yards on the ground. Nose tackle Brandon Williams is having a Pro Bowl season and C.J. Mosley has come on of late and made 12 tackles last week.

BROWNS: Cleveland's run defense was gouged by the Ravens in Week 5 and it hasn't improved much since. They are allowing 138.8 rushing yards per game, the most in the NFL. Seven running backs have gained at least 90 yards against the Browns this season. Cleveland used the 12th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft on nose tackle Danny Shelton, but he's having an uneven rookie season. (EDGE: RAVENS)

PASS DEFENSE

RAVENS: Quietly, the Ravens pass defense has strung together two solid games, albeit against less-than-explosive passing offenses. The key has been limiting big plays, an elusive season-long goal. The Browns will be a decent measuring stick, given how badly they exposed the Ravens secondary in Week 5. The Ravens had four sacks in that game, but never came close to taking Josh McCown out of his rhythm. After a rocky start, Shareece Wright has settled in as the No. 3 cornerback.

BROWNS: Top cornerback Joe Haden's ongoing health issues have contributed to some problems. Haden missed five of the past seven games and has struggled with lingering effects of the concussion he suffered against the Ravens in October. His issues have forced the Browns to start second-year cornerback Pierre Desir opposite veteran Tramon Williams. Strong safety Donte Whitner is vulnerable in coverage. Former Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger has 11/2 sacks. (EDGE: EVEN)

SPECIAL TEAMS

RAVENS: The Ravens' ability to block kicks has added a new dimension to a formidable special teams group. They've gotten a hand on a kick or a punt in four consecutive games. Sam Koch leads the NFL in net punting average (44.7 yards) and the coverage teams remain stout. But there are concerns as well: special teams penalties continue to hurt field position and Kaelin Clay looked tentative in his first game as punt returner. Justin Tucker has already missed a career-high six field-goal attempts.

BROWNS: The Browns have had one of the top special teams units in the league this year, thanks largely to a new kicking duo. Rookie Travis Coons has made all 16 of his field-goal attempts and beat the Ravens with a 32-yarder in overtime in the first matchup this year. Acquired from the San Francisco 49ers, Andy Lee is sixth in the NFL in gross punting average (47.8 yards). Travis Benjamin ranks second in the NFL with an average of 12.4 yards on punt returns. He also has a return touchdown this year. (EDGE: BROWNS)

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INTANGIBLES

RAVENS: This is all new ground for the Ravens who will be without Flacco for the first time in Harbaugh's tenure. The Ravens have been resilient if nothing else, not using injuries as an excuse and continuing to play in close games. But before their late-game comeback last week, they seemed to have reached a breaking point with poor and undisciplined play. The Ravens are 1-4 on the road this season. They haven't been swept in a season series against the Browns since 2007.

BROWNS: Cleveland hasn't hosted a Monday night game since November 2009, so there was much excitement for this date when the schedule was announced. However, it has fizzled considerably even in Cleveland, thanks to Manziel's ongoing issues and the Browns' five-game losing streak. Like the Ravens, the Browns are among the league's most penalized and most turnover-prone teams. They've lost their past four games by a total of 74 points. (EDGE: BROWNS)

PREDICTION

Sure, the Ravens have historically been good on primetime and Harbaugh's teams have dominated the Browns and been at their best while dealing with adversity. But all of those teams had Flacco at quarterback, an established ball carrier and at least one proven receiving threat. Some of those teams had a dominant defense, too. The current Ravens have none of those things. The Browns remain a mess, but they are at home and for the first time since 2007, they enter this matchup with the edge at quarterback. That should be the difference in a game that could be very hard to watch. BROWNS, 19-10

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