Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NICKEL PACKAGE: 5 Questions leading into Ravens @ Browns

1. Will the Baltimore Ravens get off to a fast start?

Heading into Monday night's road game against the hapless Cleveland Browns (1-7), the Ravens (4-4) have become notoriously slow starters. They have been outscored 28-3 in the first quarter over the past three games. The Browns, though, could prove to be the perfect antidote to what's been plaguing the offense. The Browns rank last in the NFL in total defense and surrendered a 10-0 lead to the Ravens during the first meeting, a 34-3 blowout. The Ravens' offense just needs to get into a rhythm, and the no-huddle offense could provide a spark.

2. Will the Ravens contain Joshua Cribbs?

The Browns' dangerous return man has averaged 27.3 yards per kickoff return in nine games against the Ravens. That includes a 92-yard touchdown last season against Baltimore. The Ravens did a nice job against Cribbs during the first game and special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg seems to have a good plan for how to keep his former protégé from running wild.

3. How much of an edge does Derrick Mason give the Ravens?

It's a significant one. During his past two games against Cleveland, he has posted consecutive 100-yard games. That includes a 118-yard performance during the third week of the season. Against the Browns, Mason has caught 11 passes of 25 yards or higher. He has 73 receptions against Cleveland, his second-highest total against any NFL team. Mason has caught 90 passes in Monday night games for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns.

4. Will the Ravens win the running game battle?

The Ravens are 4-0 this season when they run the football at least 18 times, dropping the other four games when they don't run the ball at least that many times. The Browns have the 31st-ranked run defense, allowing 170.5 rushing yards per game The Ravens rank 13th in rushing offense, averaging 116.1 yards behind Ray Rice. On defense, the Ravens will have to contend with former Baltimore star Jamal Lewis in their final game against him since he plans to retire. He has been limited to a 65.2 average in four games against Baltimore.

5. Will the Ravens snap their Monday night losing streak?

The Ravens have lost their past five Monday night games with their last Monday night win a 48-3 win against the Green Bay Packers in 2005. The Ravens are 4-7 all-time on Monday night games. They're 4-2 against the Browns in November and 2-0 in Cleveland. This seems like an extremely winnable game. If they don’t win, this season is, for all intensive purposes, doomed.

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