Two teams with some unexpected question marks will square off on Saturday afternoon, as the Baltimore Ravens head to Cleveland to face the Browns. Baltimore is coming off a rugged 16-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14. Meanwhile, the Browns struggled in their Week 14 divisional matchup, falling to the Cincinnati Bengals by a final score of 23-10.
The AFC North foes have already played once this season, with the Ravens edging out the Browns 23-20.
Despite the record disparity, this should be a compelling game, and we’ll be watching three different storylines this weekend.
Baltimore’s Banged Up Quarterbacks
Coming into the year, the Ravens seemed to have one of the better insurance plans under center. Tyler Huntley had shown some competent, if not impressive skills coming on in relief in the past. His numbers aren’t going to jump off the page, but Huntley’s athleticism allows Baltimore to keep their offense relatively similar to when starter Lamar Jackson is in the lineup. That continuity helps players remain on schedule throughout the year.
However, Huntley went down with a concussion on Sunday, and did not look great throwing the ball before the injury took place. Jackson was already on the shelf with a knee injury. If Huntley and Jackson can’t go, expect Baltimore to give Anthony Brown the nod against Cleveland.
Watson Searching For A Rhythm
Speaking of uncertainty at quarterback, the Browns probably aren’t where they thought they’d be at this point of the season either. Cleveland rolled with veteran Jacoby Brissett for most of the year, who was responsible for keeping the seat warm during Deshaun Watson’s suspension. The hope was that Cleveland could remain competitive, and then hand the keys over to Watson for the stretch run.
Number 4 is indeed back under center, but he’s looked rusty in his first two NFL games in a long time. He hasn’t had the type of explosiveness fans remembered from his days with the Texans, but it’s possible that he’ll get things going in his first start in front of the home fans. Expect head coach Kevin Stefanski to continue to lean on his running game, but also look to challenge a hit or miss Ravens secondary a few times in this game.
The Plan For Andrews
In the first matchup between these two teams, Baltimore All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews finished with a grand total of zero catches. Many were alarmed by his lack of statistical output, and wondered whether some of the bumps and bruises he was reported to have were more serious than the team let on.
After that game, Lamar Jackson came out and said that the Browns actively double teamed Andrews, which dictated that the ball be thrown in players who were open or in man coverage. It makes sense why Cleveland would do that, as Andrews was and still remains the Ravens’ best pass catcher. It’ll be interesting to see if they deploy the same strategy in the rematch.