>>The front seven has to be prepared to win the game. The outcome is likely to come down to whether the Browns’ defensive line and linebackers are able to minimize the rushing impact of running back Ray Rice and force the Ravens to try and win the game through the air. Quarterback Joe Flacco is more than capable of delivering difference-making throws, but he’s working without some key weapons (the biggest of which is tight end Dennis Pitta, who suffered a season-ending hip injury). As they showed against the Dolphins, the Browns are capable of making an opposing offense one-dimensional and applying strong pressure. This time, however, they need to do it from the very start of the game rather than waiting until the second quarter to turn up the heat.
>>The right side of the offensive line needs a whole lot of help. The Browns clearly didn’t anticipate how bad things were on the right side of their offensive line. They thought they would be able to at least hold their own with Oneil Cousins filling the injury gap at right guard, but it didn’t come close to happening. He drew four penalties and was consistently losing battles against Miami’s exceptionally strong defensive line. Even more surprising was how badly
>>The offense has to have greater balance. Offensive balance is always the goal, although no game plan is constructed with the idea of having a certain ratio of passes to runs. The game almost always will dictate that. And the fact is, the Browns’ philosophy is to attack through the air first, looking to gain yards in chunks and setting up the run with the pass. That won’t change against the Ravens. What should be different, however, is becoming a little more selective about when and where to throw and giving the running game more opportunities to establish itself. The Browns won’t have a prayer if, as they did last week, are throwing 53 times and running 13.
>>Special teams must be special. The Browns simply can’t afford to be ordinary here. They generally figure to be overmatched in this game, and will need to perform at the highest level in all phases to have a chance to win. That means
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