Browns at Ravens -- Sunday, Sept. 15 -- 1:00 p.m. ET; Browns vs. Ravens -- Sunday, Nov. 3 -- 1:00 p.m. ET
For the fifth time in six years, the Cleveland Browns will get to play the reigning Super Bowl champions, and for the second time in five seasons, they will have two chances against the defending NFL champs.
In those games, the Browns are 3-2, including a 2-0 mark at home. This year, the Browns will be the first home opponent for the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, who open the 2013 season at Denver because of a conflict with the schedule of the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball.
After playing four of six games against the AFC North Division before their bye week in 2012, the Browns will split three games before and after the break in 2013. They will finish the regular-season series with Baltimore on Nov. 3, one week before going on the bye.
In 2012, the Browns lost both games to the Ravens by a combined 17 points. After dropping a seven-point game in front of a national-television audience at Baltimore on Sept. 27, the Browns lost by a 10-point margin on Nov. 4.
The Ravens, who finished the 2012 regular season with a 10-6 record and first-place finish in the AFC North Division, gave up more first downs (326) than they converted (314), but despite being outrushed (1,965 to 1,901), they outgained their opponents (5,640 to 5,615), scored 11 more touchdowns (44 to 33) and were plus-nine in the turnover differential.
Quarterback Joe Flacco, who was voted the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, completed 317 of 531 attempts for 3,817 yards and 22 touchdowns against 10 interceptions during the regular season. Although he was sacked 35 times for 227 lost yards, Flacco carried an 87.7 quarterback rating and added three rushing touchdowns on the year.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was Flacco’s favorite target, catching 65 passes for 921 yards and four touchdowns, but fellow wideout Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta also proved to be vital to the success of the Ravens’ offense.
Smith caught 49 passes for 855 yards and team-best eight touchdowns, while Pitta hauled in 61 passes for 669 yards and seven scores.
When Flacco did not throw the ball, he handed it to running back Ray Rice, who gained 1,143 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 257 carries. A dual-threat option for the Ravens, Rice tied Pitta for the second-most receptions on the team (61), which he turned into 478 yards and a touchdown.
Bernard Pollard led the team with 98 total tackles, 71 solo stops and 27 assists.
Defensive backs Cary Williams and Ed Reed each intercepted four passes and returned one of those for touchdowns.
On special teams, wide receiver Jacoby Jones averaged 9.2 yards over 37 punt returns and gained 1,167 yards on 38 kickoffs. He scored three special-teams touchdowns during the regular season and had a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII.
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker converted 30 of 33 field-goal attempts, including all four from at least 50 yards, and punter Sam Koch averaged 47.1 yards over 83 punts, 28 of which he pinned inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Key Additions: The Ravens re-signed quarterback Joe Flacco and signed defensive end Elvis Dumervil (from Denver).
Key Losses: Linebackers Ray Lewis (to retirement), Kruger (to Cleveland) and Ellerbe (to Miami); Reed (to Houston), and Boldin (traded to San Francisco).
Draft: The Ravens focused on defense with their first four picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. They selected free safety Matt Elam (first round), inside linebacker Arthur Brown (second), defensive tackle Brandon Williams (third) and defensive end John Simon (fourth) before adding fullback Kyle Juszcyzk (fourth) and offensive tackle Ricky Wagner (fifth). Baltimore had two picks in each the sixth and seventh rounds. They added defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore and offensive tackle Ryan Jensen in the sixth round, as well as wide receiver Aaron Mellette and cornerback Marc Anthony in the seventh.
Kruger was selected by the Ravens in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He registered 4.5 sacks in last year’s playoffs during Baltimore’s run to the Super Bowl XLVII championship.
Browns offensive tackle
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, tight end
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome was selected by the Browns with the No. 23 overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft and became a Hall of Fame inductee after playing with the team from 1978-90. Newsome still holds seven franchise records (most catches in a career, season and game, most consecutive games with a catch, yards in a career and game, and most seasons with 50 or more receptions).
Newsome got his start in the front office with the Browns’ pro personnel department from 1991-95.
Baltimore’s assistant head coach/special teams coordinator, Jerry Rosburg, coached the Browns’ special teams from 2001-06 and his special teams units ranked in the top 10 in several categories during that time.
Defensive line coach Clarence Brooks served in the same capacity with the Browns in 1999.
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was head coach at Kent State and guided former Brown Joshua Cribbs to 13 school records. Under Pees’ direction, Cribbs became only the second player in NCAA history to rush for and also throw for more than 1,000 yards in a single season.
Chris Hewitt, Baltimore’s assistant special teams coach, served as an intern with the Browns in 2001 through the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship Program.
Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk (Medina/Cloverleaf High School) and linebacker John Simon (Youngstown/Cardinal Mooney) are Ohio natives. Simon was the eighth two-time captain in Ohio State’s history.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (Perrysburg/Miami of Ohio), inside linebackers coach Don Martindale (Dayton/Defiance College) and Pees (Dunkirk/Bowling Green State University) are Ohio natives.
Overall, the Browns are 7-21-0 against the Ravens, 4-10 in home games and 3-11 at Baltimore.