Week 16 Preview: Can the Ravens Handle Their Business?
The Ravens face off against the Cleveland Browns in their final home regular season game of the 2011 Season. The Browns are currently ravaged by injuries, the Ravens need to win to maintain their #2 seed in the AFC playoffs and the Ravens are 7-0 at home this year. Its really hard to make any case for the Ravens losing this game but then again the Indianapolis Colts (2-13) beat the Houston Texans (10-5) putting in jeopardy their chance at the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Its referred to as the coin flip league for a reason, no single game outcome is improbable. Without further ado, lets jump into the bullets after the jump:
- Cleveland Browns starting safety T.J. Ward, starting QB Colt McCoy and WR Jordan Norwood have all been ruled out for Saturday’s game due to injury. While its always nice to be facing a backup QB as opposed to the starter, its debatable as to whether or not Colt McCoy is better than his backup Seneca Wallace. Last week, Wallace and the Browns forced overtime against a very solid Arizona Cardinals team at University of Phoenix stadium.
- After looking completely ineffective last week, the Ravens pass rush should get back on track. The Browns offense is below average according to Football Outsider’s DVOA and when these two teams played earlier this season the Ravens tallied 3 sacks totaling 22 lost yards. Given the Browns inability to run the ball they should be forced into many passing situations on Saturday resulting in at least 3 sacks.
- According to Football Outsider’s DVOA, the Browns have an above average defense. However, in Week 13 when the two teams played at Cleveland, Ray Rice put up a career day rushing for 204 total yards. It will be interesting to see if the Browns above average defense can keep Rice contained this week. While its unlikely Rice will usurp 200 yards again, the game will be a lot more relaxing for Ravens fans if he runs of at least 100.
- While most fans seem pleased the Ravens have clinched a playoff birth, this season really has become about beating the Steelers by winning the AFC North. It seems ridiculous to sweep the next best team in the division and still enter the playoffs as wild card team. Alas, that is a the most probable scenario if the Ravens fail to beat the Browns on Saturday. John Harbaugh and the players got bailed out after a sickening performance on Sunday night by little brother Jim’s 49ers on Monday. However, a loss at home to the a struggling Cleveland team would show that this team really does not deserve to be AFC North division winners.