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Week 5 Preview: Browns at Ravens


The Sports Xchange

Cleveland Browns (1-3) at Baltimore Ravens (1-3)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

*Keys to the game: Former Bears head coach Marc Trestman can help dissect Browns QB Josh McCown, who has played well for the Browns but has no wins to show for it. Cleveland might have something in playmaking rookie RB Duke Johnson, who had nine receptions and 116 yards from scrimmage last week. Unheralded receivers are helping McCown settle in behind a solid offensive line, including TE Gary Barnidge, who has TD receptions in consecutive games. Johnson and RB Isaiah Crowell are the key pieces in a conservative offense, and the Browns are best in a grinding game that doesn’t ask a lot of McCown.

Joe Flacco’s gritty play has been a job requirement with a leaky line that is letting defenders put the Ravens’ quarterback on his back. The Browns will likely sit tight to the line of scrimmage and make Flacco’s receivers come up with something considering how thinned the ranks are with Steve Smith (back), TE Crockett Gillmore (calf) and Michael Campanaro (back, IR) hurt. That could push WR Chris Givens, acquired from the Rams last week, into a starting spot and bring unexpected aid to the Browns’ 31st-ranked run defense (141.5 yards per game).

*Matchup to watch – Ravens OLB Elvis Dumervil vs. Browns LT Joe Thomas: Dumervil is going to be pivotal for the Ravens to get to McCown. Thomas is widely regarded as one the best tackles in the NFL but Dumervil has 10 sacks in eight career meetings.

*Player spotlight – Browns NT Danny Shelton: Mobile and massive all at the same time, Shelton was thought to be an answer to Cleveland’s sagging run defense. The Browns drafted Shelton with the 12th overall pick to contain the run but he hasn’t been the answer. Forsett had 119 yards on 17 carries in his last game against Cleveland on Dec. 28, 2014.

*Fast facts: The Ravens have won 13 of the past 14 meetings, all started by Flacco. … McCown has two 300-yard games this season but is 2-9 as a starter when he passes for at least 300 yards.


There is little the Ravens don’t know about Josh McCown and with the ability to clog running lanes and spin the veteran into panicked decisions, Baltimore gets a second win in a row despite playing with a “Hello, My Name Is” wide receiver corps.

*Our pick: Ravens 30-16.

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