The Browns have a must-win against the Ravens on Sunday.
The Ravens are beatable. The book on how to contain Lamar Jackson exists. The Browns defense was built specifically to stop Jackson. There is no other way forward to the playoffs but through Baltimore. Cleveland needs this win.
The defense has been uniquely built to handle Jackson and they’ll need every single one of their guys to do their job against the Ravens. That said, the Browns will also need their coaches to do their job as well. Something that isn’t a guarantee these days.
That said, the Browns have a real shot at defeating the Ravens. Their ball-control offense is the best way to limit Baltimore and force their offense to make every snap count. When you’re stuck in that loop, bad things happen. To get the Ravens into that loop of pressuring each down to matter, the Browns will need key players to step up.
Five players who need to step up against the Ravens
The Lions took out Myles Garrett, which is the second time in a row that he looked pedestrian against an opposing offense. Myles Garrett is a guided missile, it’s not impossible to take him out of the game. He’s got one direction, so if he’s not making an impact, that falls solely on the coaching staff for being too one-dimensional. He’s the Ace in stopping Lamar Jackson and the coaching staff has got to get creative with him to get him back into the grove of things.
Even though no one said it, this is why Jadeveon Clowney was signed; Lamar Jackson. The Ravens quarterback has quite the book written about how to stop him. Play suffocating pass-defense and meet him at the line of scrimmage when he tries to run. Clowney is great at stopping rushers, and he’ll need to be to help give the Browns a chance to win.
Baker Mayfield’s injuries are long. His play has declined in recent weeks due to the injuries. If he can’t be effective while injured, then he should not start. That said, I truly do believe that a healthy Case Keenum is worse than a mangled Mayfield, so I have no problem starting Mayfield. Kevin Stefanski seemingly agrees. So if Mayfield is cleared to play, expect him to. If he does play, however, Mayfield needs to be more accurate and stop forcing throws like he did against New England and Detroit.
Any wide receiver
Mayfield has been an issue, that’s no doubt, but the Browns don’t exactly have the Greatest Show on Turf around him. Their tight ends are either slow or inconsistent, their best receiver isn’t what he once was due to mounting injuries and is slower than the tight ends. Their fastest receiver has a concussion and when he doesn’t, doesn’t know how to run routes. Then the rest of the offense is sprinkled with very-late round picks and undrafted free agents. Clearly, the Browns offense has been overhyped. They need someone, anyone to get separation and actually make plays. Getting an ace receiver saved Josh Allen in Buffalo. Imagine what it could do for Mayfield.
Greedy Williams’ play as of late has been fantastic. While Denzel Ward has put together a few good games as late, it’s been Williams who has been the best corner all year long for Cleveland. He’ll need to be great again against the Ravens. So will Ward and rookie Greg Newsome. As it turns out, the way to stop Lamar Jackson is by taking away his targets to throw to.