The Browns offense is ready for their biggest challenge Sunday as they go up against one of the best defenses in the league. They will travel to M&T Stadium to take on the Ravens in a showdown that will affect the AFC North standings. The Browns offense is focused on seeing their improved offense in action against the Ravens defense.
"I got to focus on attacking the defense," QB Deshaun Watson said. "I got to focus on the two linebackers, the edge rushers, and the secondary and what they want to try to present to us. So that's my main focus, is the Ravens defense, and that's what I'm going to be locked in on."
The Browns offense will face a Ravens defense that made things very difficult for them in Week 4. Watson, who at the time missed his first game of the season against the Ravens, was replaced by rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
The Ravens held Thompson-Robinson to 121 passing yards, a 52.8 percent completion rate and a 25.3 passer rating. They also forced him to throw three interceptions. The Browns lost the game 28-3.
They'll get their second crack at the Ravens with Watson back at the helm of their offense.
This season, the Ravens defense has been remarkably great. They have only given up nine touchdowns this season, the best in the league, and rank first in points and second in yards allowed. They also lead the league in sacks and opposing QB rating.
The Ravens are known for their speed, discipline and talented players all around. Their defensive leader is LB Roquan Smith, who has been exceptional this season with 87 total tackles – the fourth highest in the league – along with five passes defended and 1.5 sacks in all nine games he's started.
LB Patrick Queen is having a Pro Bowl-type season with 47 solo tackles, three pass deflections and seven stuffs. They also have two multi-time Pro Bowlers in CB Marlon Humphrey and LB Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has 3.5 sacks on the season, and Humphrey is back after missing the first four games of the season recovering from foot surgery.
Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens
According to QB Lamar Jackson, the Ravens defense "has no weaknesses."
"Just from the defensive line, the linebackers, the secondary, how they're flying around and disguising defenses – making it look like one coverage, but it's something else – and how they time up their blitzes, it helps us out a lot, because when we're playing other teams, they're flying around and giving us their best shot," Jackson said. "It's like we're seeing one of the best defenses every day in practice."
The Ravens defense has been great this season, but they have not been perfect. They have two games this season where they had key mishaps that the Browns offense can try to take advantage of.
The first game was Week 3 against the Colts. QB Gardner Minshew completed 61.4 percent of his passes and threw for 227 yards. Eight different players caught a pass from Minshew. Also, RB Zach Moss rushed for 122 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. The Colts won the game 22-19 in overtime.
The second game happened in Week 8 when the Ravens faced off against the Cardinals. QB Joshua Dobbs threw for 208 yards, completed 67.6 percent of his passes and ended with a 77.3 passer rating. Seven different players caught at least one pass. The Cardinals rushed for 128 yards and averaged 4 yards per carry as a team. The 1-7 Cardinals lost 31-24 in a game that went to the wire.
In both those games, the Ravens defense gave up at least one rushing and one passing touchdown. It was the only time the Ravens gave up a rushing and passing touchdown in the same game this season. It was also the only time a quarterback threw for over 100 yards, and the rushing attack had over 100 yards in the same game.
The Browns – who can be a good, balanced offense – can use it to their advantage this Sunday. In three out of the four games where Watson played a full game, the Browns had over 100 rushing and passing yards.
In their recent game against the Cardinals, the Browns offense scored both a rushing and passing touchdown. This marks the fifth time they have achieved this feat this season. Additionally, every time Watson has played a full game, the Browns have scored at least one rushing and passing touchdown.
"Any time you can have a balanced attack, you can beat any defense," RB Jerome Ford said. "It keeps the linebackers modest. It has the defense looking at everything. When we use both effectively, our offense looks real good."