Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns: Final Prediction


Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) and Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson (53) at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens’ final game of the season may end up being their most important yet, or it could mean nothing. That all depends on the San Diego Chargers. The fans can afford to think about the Bolts. The Ravens can’t.

And to John Harbaugh’s credit, the Ravens always seem focused. They won’t be scoreboard watching.

Also to Harbaugh’s credit, the Ravens are an excellent team coming off a loss. Only once this season have the Ravens lost back-to-back games, thanks in part to their mental fortitude and thanks in part to Joe Flacco‘s amazing ability to bounce back. His best performance this year, the five touchdown gem against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, came off a loss, as did a 25-for-33 game against the Miami Dolphins.

So expect the Ravens to play much better at home against Cleveland than they did on the road against Houston. That much is obvious, especially on offense. Even with the ground game a mess, the Ravens should be able to run the ball against the league’s worst rushing defense. Flacco, meanwhile, should be sharp at home coming off a loss.

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens should have little trouble shutting down an offense which has come off the rails in recent weeks. Connor Shaw, an undrafted rookie, has a very good chance of starting at quarterback, so the Ravens pass rush should be licking their chops.

If there is a downside when the Ravens are on defense, it’s that the Ravens did not get a single sack against the Browns earlier in the season. Brian Hoyer picked apart the Ravens terrible secondary with dink-and-dunk, short passes. He got rid of the ball very quickly, letting his receivers make plays after the catch. It worked, as Hoyer had his best game of the season by far. So don’t count out Connor Shaw, who is perfectly capable of dinking and dunking.

Betting against the Ravens at home is a tough sell, though, so expect a Baltimore win. Cleveland will keep it interesting for a little while, generating some long drives to start the game. The Ravens defense will undoubtedly hold in the red zone, helped in part by Josh Gordon‘s suspension.

From there, the offense should be able to do just enough to win. A slow start is likely, yet the Ravens won’t panic. Flacco will do just enough to carry the offense, make some big plays and help produce a win.

Final Score: Baltimore Ravens 24, Cleveland Browns 16

Next: Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns: 3 Bold Predictions