This week i thought i would look at the AFC North game between the Ravens ranked #32 and the Browns ranked #31 after the first week of games.
In the Brown's owners own words, "We are in a rebuilding phase." Yes it looks like Jim is doing a little maintanance in Cleveland. The Browns took CB C. Crockett with the first pick of the draft this season. Crockett came out of training camp as one of the starting CB's. With J. Haden on the other side, the Browns have two of the top corners in the league. Up front on defense, with the exception of LE Q. Coples, the Browns are old and weak. The linebacking corp is capable, with LOLB E. Smith being the one that will stand out.
On offense, the Browns have the horses up front, but they are getting long in the tooth, and Jim will have to schedule that area for rebuilding soon. At QB, Cutler has always thrown as many intercepts as td's during his career, which has caused the dog pound to toss a few bones his way during games. The Browns picked up HB T. Gearhart through free agency, after being cut by the Bengals, in order to jump start their running game. The bright spot for the Browns on offense is WR T. Hilton, who collected 1149 yrds receiving last season as a rookie. He also does double duty as the kick returner and punt returner. The Browns need another top WR on offense to keep the defensive heat off of Hilton. On special teams the Browns better get closer than the 35 yrd line for the weak legged kicker Dawson. The Browns are going to need alot more maintenance scheduled along with their games this season.
In Baltimore, Eric realizes his team needs to drink from the fountain of youth very soon. On offense , the O-line has been a work in progress, with the addition of rookie RG D. DeCastro last year. With the decision to start C T. Barnes over veteran V. Nwaneri coming out of training camp, it looks like they are deciding to go with more youth this season. The Ravens have two top WR's in C. Bailey, and E. Martinez, both are over 6' with alot of abilities. In the slot WR A.J. Jenkins will cause match up problems with his leaping abilities. The problem for the Ravens will be how well, the new comer QB B. Gabbert will jell with his WR's. With Flacco being traded to the Patriots for Gabbert, the shock waves could be felt through out Baltimore. It was reported the epic center of the rumblings and grumblings was felt in the most dangerous area the "locker room." HB K. Smith will carry the load of the running game again this season. The Ravens front office picked up HB P. Thomas in the off season from the Saints, but i dont think that was what the coach was looking for as a back up to Smith.
On defense , the Ravens look solid, but their first game out, they played like there was a crack in the foundation. The front four didnt apply enough pressure, the linebackers were slow to get to the ball and couldnt get off their blocks and the defensive backs had to cover their receivers for too long. The defensive secondary is very capable of shutting down the pass. With some pressure from the front four im sure FS Zbikowski will be floating around to pick off a very errant throws from opposing QB's. On special teams the Ravens must correct their kicking game also. With K B. Cundiff missing two short field goals in their first game.
Overall View: Both teams are in a serious rebuilding phase. With both teams having weak special teams kicking, it will come down to who corrects that before this game. The Ravens improve theirs the most.
Ravens by 6 pts