1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Browns

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Browns
November 3, 2012, 8:00 pm
Share This Post

1. The Ravens will score a first-quarter touchdown.

One of the more alarming things about this season has been the Ravens' inability to find the end zone early in games. Sustained drives have stalled, and other early possessions have gone nowhere. They have not scored a first-quarter touchdown since Week 2 at Philadelphia, and since then they have been outscored 29-9 in the first quarter. This week, the Ravens will generate an early touchdown.

2. Ray Rice will have 20 carries.

Rice's workload remains topic No. 1 in Baltimore after he had just nine carries in the loss at Houston. Rice has had two of his four biggest rushing games of his career in Cleveland, and has had at least 20 carries in all four career games there. He gets the ball early and often.

3. Bernard Pierce will have at least six touches.

The Ravens want to get both Rice and backup running back Bernard Pierce involved, and establishing the running game with those two should help the passing game. Pierce has a total of 25 touches this season (23 rushes, two receptions), or about 3.5 per game. He set career highs in the first meeting with Cleveland, with six carries for 48 yards.

4. Anquan Boldin will have at least four catches.

The veteran Ravens receiver carried the Ravens' passing game in the first meeting between these teams. He had eight catches for 125 yards in the second half alone and finished 9-131, both season highs. The Browns have cornerback Joe Haden, who missed the first meeting with a suspension, but Boldin will still find his openings.

5. Joe Flacco will throw fewer than 30 passes.

Flacco threw a season-high 46 passes, completing 28, in the win over Cleveland six weeks ago. But in Cleveland, the Ravens have generally relied on the ground game, and want to recommit to the run this week. In four career starts at Cleveland, Flacco has averaged 22 passes, and has never thrown more than 29.

6. Trent Richardson will rush for 100 yards.

The Ravens have shown a glaring weakness in run defense, and Haloti Ngata (questionable, shoulder, knee) is banged up in the middle of that defense. Richardson was held to 47 yards on 14 carries by the Ravens in September, but he's coming off a career-best 122-yard effort in the Browns' win over San Diego. Expect him to run it until the Ravens show they can stop him. Ngata's presence -- or absence -- could be huge. 

7. Terrell Suggs will have a sack.

Led by five-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, the Browns' offensive line is decent and has yielded 13 sacks this season.  The Ravens got to Brandon Weeden once in the first meeting, with Paul Kruger recording a sack. Suggs might not yet be 100 percent, but he is a game-changer off the edge and will make things happen once again. In 18 career games against the Browns, Suggs has 13 sacks.

8. Josh Gordon will have a catch of at least 25 yards.

The Browns rookie receiver is really coming into his own, with 10 catches and four touchdowns in the Browns' past four games. He's a big-play threat who leads the league with 22.3 yards per catch, and he will test Ravens corners Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith, who both have had trouble defending double moves and deep routes.

9. The Ravens will win time of possession.

Perhaps nothing has hurt the Ravens more lately than their inability to get the defense off the field. The offense has stalled, the defense has yielded sustained drives, and the result has been whopping deficiencies in time of possession. They managed to beat Dallas despite having the ball for 19:57, compared to Dallas' 40:03, and then had the ball for 21:44 at Houston. The Ravens have held the ball more than 30 minutes just once this season -- in the first meeting with Cleveland. By establishing Ray Rice and their running game, they will do that again.

10. Ravens 23, Browns 20

The Ravens put a few streaks on the line on Sunday: John Harbaugh has never lost to the Browns, winning nine straight, and the Ravens have won 14 straight games after a loss, the longest such streak in the league. They are also 4-0 under John Harbaugh in their first game after the bye. They will be tested by an improved Browns team, and need to play better on the road than they have lately. But Suggs makes an impact on defense, Rice does the same on offense and the Ravens escape with a win.