NFL Wire News

Week 17 Preview: Browns at Ravens

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Cleveland Browns (7-8) at Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

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

*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jamie Erdahl

*Keys to the game: The Browns may not know until game day whether QB Brian Hoyer’s shoulder will be healthy enough to allow him to play, with rookie Connor Shaw getting the call if not. Whoever is behind center will be tasked with moving the ball against the Ravens’ 28th-ranked pass defense. Baltimore is fourth against the run, and rookie RBs Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell have struggled to gain their footing with teams daring Cleveland to beat them through the air.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco is coming off one of his worst career games at Houston, where he completed just 21 of 50 passes for 195 yards, most of which game after the outcome was decided, and three picks. RB Justin Forsett (10 carries, 19 yards) had nowhere to run, leaving the Texans free to get after the immobile Flacco and force mistakes. The problem for the Browns is they enter with the league’s worst run defense, including 160 yards in a home loss to the Ravens earlier this season.

*Matchup to watch – Browns C Ryan Seymour vs. Ravens NT Brandon Williams: Seymour is battling a hamstring injury, while Williams is replacing suspended Haloti Ngata. Inconsistent play at center has been at the heart of the Browns’ inability to run the ball effectively since Alex Mack’s injury.

*Player spotlight – Browns CB Justin Gilbert: Along with his game-day struggles, Gilbert and fellow rookie West were benched last week for multiple reasons, including poor practice habits, according to coach Rich Pettine. Both are in the doghouse, but are impact rookies the Browns need to evaluate more of on the field.

*Fast facts: The Browns’ offense was 3-for-12 on third-down conversations in last week’s loss to Carolina. … Flacco has a 12-1 career record against Cleveland with 16 TDs, 7 INTs and a 90.5 passer rating.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Ravens will be keeping one eye on the Browns and one eye on the scoreboard, needing a win coupled with a San Diego loss in Kansas City to reach the postseason. Hoyer keeps the Browns in a tight game. Shaw would equate to a walkover for the Ravens.

*Our pick: Ravens 20-16


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