The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens had two excellent games last season, each team narrowly winning one. The first meeting was the more exciting, ending in overtime, but it was also the one thing the Browns will look to for inspiration with quarterback Josh McCown under center.
Starter Robert Griffin III is injured and the team is turning to McCown, who happened to set a Browns franchise record in that game. McCown threw for 457 yards in the win, and though he didn’t reach those heights the rest of the season and ended up with a 1-7 record as a starter, McCown was much better than anybody expected.
Now the Browns have to depend on him again. The AFC North is looking like one of the toughest divisions in the league once again, though the Browns are considered the odd team out in that equation. The Browns were dominated by the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, and are the only AFC North team with a loss after Week 1.
The Ravens took a narrow win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, fending them off with a strong defense and not much else. They won that game, 13-7, while Joe Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown. What was very concerning was the fact that the Ravens allowed Flacco to be sacked a total of four times.
Flacco looks fully recovered from the season-ending knee injury he sustained last season, which isn’t great news for the Browns given Flacco’s historic dominance over Cleveland. He is 13-2 all time against Cleveland, with 19 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
It will be interesting to see if he’ll have Breshad Perriman to throw to. Perriman missed all of last season with a right knee injury, and tore the ACL in his left knee during final OTAs. It was only a partial tear though, and he played in the team’s opener. Perriman is considered a potential playmaking receiver with deep threat ability, and Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league.
But Perriman seemed to have suffered a setback as he missed some practice time this week.
The last time the Browns and Ravens played each other, McCown sustained a broken collarbone and his season was ended. The Ravens won that game, 33-27. And this time, the Ravens will have All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs back in the lineup after he missed most of last year with a torn Achilles tendon.
Cleveland was hoping Griffin would be a successful reclamation project, but that’s not panning out with his injury in Week 1. Griffin could still come back and successfully relaunch his career in Cleveland, but everything seems to be trending in favor of the Ravens (and the rest of the AFC North).
Of course, that’s assuming Josh McCown doesn’t decide to have another crazy, record-breaking day.
How to Watch Ravens vs. Browns on Sunday
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Chris Simms
Online Streaming: Sunday Ticket