After a tough loss to start the season along with a potentially season ending injury to the starting quarterback, the Browns will look to bounce back this week against the Baltimore Ravens. For a team not expected to win a lot of games, playing divisional opponents tough means a lot more than any other team on the schedule. And when it’s the city that stole the original Browns from Cleveland, this game is on a personal level for the fan base. Here’s the match-ups that’ll determine whether the Browns win or lose on Sunday.
Austin Pasztor vs Elvis Dumervil
The Browns starting right tackle had a rough start to his 2016 season last Sunday. He graded out as the worst starting offensive player according to Pro Football Focus and couldn’t keep the pocket clean for Robert Griffin III which led to two of the three sacks. This week gets potentially tougher as he’ll have to matchup against Elvis Dumervil. The veteran pass rusher missed last week’s opener against Buffalo and is currently on the injury report with a foot injury. If he can play, he’ll definitely cause havoc to Pasztor to go after Josh McCown. Pasztor’s starting job is on the line and will need a strong performance to keep his spot.
Joe Haden vs Mike Wallace
The former Pro Bowl corner looked like a guy still recovering from off-season ankle surgery or maybe just a guy who’s lost a step. Haden had a hard time stopping Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews and got burned by Nelson Agohlor on a 35 yard touchdown. This week brings Mike Wallace who’s trying to make a resurgence of his career. Last week against Buffalo, he caught three passes for 91 yards including a 66 yard catch for a touchdown. His speed has always been lethal and Haden must contain him or Wallace will torch him.
Josh McCown vs Ravens secondary
The veteran quarterback is back in the starting role for the Browns after RG3 went down with a broken shoulder. McCown had great against Baltimore last season going 57 of 89 (64%) for 669 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions including a franchise record 457 yards in a week 4 win. The secondary in Baltimore is no easy task however. Shareece Wright, Eric Weddle, LarDarius Webb and Jimmy Smith have had success in the NFL and helped hold Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to only 111 yards passing in last week’s 13-7 win. McCown will have to be accurate and limit his mistakes to give the Browns a chance to win.
Joe Flacco vs Browns secondary
Joe Flacco has dominated the Cleveland Browns since he came into the NFL in 2008. In 15 starts, he’s 13-2 and has thrown 19 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions against the Dawg Pound. The Browns secondary struggled against rookie Carson Wentz last week making the second overall pick look like a Hall of Famer. Veterans Joe Haden and Tramon Williams will need to step it up and not only shut down their respective receivers but also guide the young, inexperienced safeties of Ibraheim Campbell, Derrick Kindred and Jordan Poyer or Flacco will be 14-2 after Sunday.