Game preview: Ravens-Browns

Game preview: Ravens-Browns
November 1, 2013, 10:30 am
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Harbaugh hoping Ravens are rejuvenated after bye week

Game preview:

What: Ravens (3-4) at Browns (3-5)
When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

Five questions that need answers:

1. Was the bye week a tonic for the Ravens?

John Harbaugh has a perfect record (5-0) in games following the bye. The Ravens have won 11 straight against the Browns. Sounds great from the Ravens’ perspective. But this Ravens team has plenty to prove. Harbaugh shook things up, proclaiming jobs were on the line, then cutting veterans Michael Huff and Marcus Spears. If the Ravens don’t respond and lose this game, it will be a devastating blow and their playoff hopes will look bleak.

2. Will we see a more diverse Ravens offense?

We haven’t seen the Ravens throw deep as often last season. We have not seen many screen passes to backs, or quick screens to wide receivers. Maybe the offensive line’s struggles have made the Ravens reluctant to expand the playbook. But they need to find some way, any way, to make their offense more explosive. They’ve had an extra week to add new wrinkles. We’ll see if any or unveiled.

3. Can the Ravens start fast for a change?

The Ravens have trailed at halftime in four consecutive games. That’s a tough way to win. Not only does it impact play-calling offensively, it becomes harder for the Ravens’ defense to play to its strengths. The Ravens would love to take a lead, force the Browns into obvious passing situations, and turn the pass rush led by Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil loose. When the Ravens know the pass is coming, Suggs and Dumervil can become a devastating combo.  That’s what the Ravens want to see Sunday.

4. Will Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon become double-trouble for Ravens?

Cameron is a talented tight end who had a nice game (five catches, 95 yards) against the Ravens in Week 2. Gordon was suspended for that game, but he is averaging 97 receiving yards since returning in Week 3. With Jason Campbell playing quarterback for the Browns instead of Brandon Weeden, Cameron and Gordon have become more dangerous. If the Ravens blow assignments in pass coverage, they will pay.

5.  Is Ray Rice ready to be a difference-maker again?

Rice has not looked like himself all season. The hip flexor suffered in Week 2 has been a problem. The Ravens’ offensive line has been a problem. The Browns are a stingy run defense, but Rice has enjoyed some of his best career games in Cleveland. If Rice has a good game Sunday, it’s a positive sign that more good games could follow.