By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens are getting into their judgment day. Their season will be defined by how they do in the five divisional battles they have in the last seven games of the season. The first of these divisional battles is on Sunday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens will see the Browns twice in three weeks so getting off to a big start of this stretch is crucial. Here are four predictions and a free score estimate for the huge game.
1. Mark Andrews has 10 receptions and 125 yards, and two touchdowns
The biggest problem for the Cleveland Browns outside of Lamar Jackson has been Mark Andrews. Andrews is a player that gives Cleveland trouble. Andrews has had five touchdowns against the Browns over the past two seasons. Look for Andrews to go off in this game. This is a game where the Ravens are going to need all the big plays they can get. Jackson trusts Andrews more than anybody in the big spot.
Andrews has had no less than five receptions in a game since he was held to just three catches in week 1. Predicting a 10 reception day for Andrews sounds bolder than it is. Andrews had 11 receptions against the Indianapolis Colts. He’s coming off an eight-grab day against the Chicago Bears in a game where his starting quarterback was out with an illness. Andrews is playing amazingly and he’s the best thing the Ravens have to show off on offense not named Jackson.
2. Odafe Oweh has three sacks
Baker Mayfield has been sacked 27 times this season. The Baltimore Ravens are hoping to add to that number. While the Ravens haven’t been pass-rushing masters, they have a talented young pass rusher in Odafe Oweh. Oweh has four sacks this season and he’s got a good number of pressures on top of that.
So far Oweh’s signature moment was against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. The Ravens have a SNF showing again this week. Let’s see if he can top his last performance. How do you top forcing Patrick Mahomes into a pick and a game-saving forced fumble? Three sacks against Baker Mayfield in a crucial game at home would do the trick. Oweh is bound to break out for a huge game eventually and this matchup could be the ticket.
3. Lamar Jackson has 100 yards rushing and nearly 300 in the air:
The Baltimore Ravens are going to need a big day from Lamar Jackson to win this game. This is going to be a classic Lamar Jackson outing. Coming back after he missed a game, against a division rival? You already know Jackson is going to be ready for that. I could see Jackson starting this game a little too amped for his good. Once he settles into the game, Cleveland will remember that he is their worst nightmare.
Jackson topped the Browns in the 2018 season finale. He lost one in 2019, but went to Cleveland and got his swift revenge. Jackson and the Ravens swept Cleveland in 2020. When the Browns thought they had the Ravens last year, Jackson returned from the locker room and made the game-saving touchdown pass to Marquise Brown. Jackson has had the upper hand in this rivalry, not Baker Mayfield. I expect the return of the MVP to be a sight to see. Look for one of Jackson’s best performances under the Sunday night lights.
In games like this Jackson just makes it happen. Remember the 47-42 game? Jackson had to get it done with his legs at the beginning of that game. Jackson led touchdown drives by taking off and making Browns players chase him with desperation. In that game, he had 163 yards passing and 124 yards rushing. This is a “Whatever it takes” kind of game and that means it’s a Jackson special.
4. The Ravens lack of open field tackling makes this more dramatic than it needs to be:
Do I see this as a potentially great night for Baltimore? Yes. Do I also see this as a Ravens game, meaning it’s going to be harder than it has to be? You bet. The Ravens have given up a big play or two in just about every game because of a lack of tackling prowess. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and Jarvis Landry in the open field… What could go wrong? This will likely be a back-and-forth affair.
Every missed tackle will give the Browns life. Every big play will make this game a little harder. Knowing the track record of the Ravens and the big-time playmakers on the Browns’ offense, look for some big plays for Cleveland. It’s borderline inevitable.
And now a score: Ravens win 35-28
This is going to be a roller coaster of emotions. Get ready for it now. Strap yourself in and get ready to find a way no matter what. If the Ravens show up and step up to the plate, they’re still going to make it dramatic. That’s the way it goes this season. Give me the offense having a big showing and the defense doing just enough to stop Baker Mayfield and hand him an L.
This is as big of a game day as you get. Go get it Baltimore!