Year in and year out, the Baltimore Ravens defense has been one of the league's best.
This year isn't any different.
Armed with veteran standouts like linebacker Terrell Suggs and safety Eric Weddle, the Ravens have continued to inflict punishment on opposing offenses — they're tied for third in points allowed and second in yards per game.
Against that backdrop, Browns coach Hue Jackson knows rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield and an offense coming off a historically explosive afternoon in Oakland will have their hands full Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"They're good, let's make no mistake about that. They're statistically good. They are personnel-wise good. Terrell Suggs is still Terrell Suggs. Weddle is still Weddle. They still have a lot of good, premiere players," Jackson said.
"This is the AFC North, we get it. We think that we have some good players, too. We're looking forward to the challenge. If we're going to be the team that we want to be, we have to go into our stadium and play against these teams and find a way to defeat them. That's what this is all about."
Cleveland's offense, which ranks 10th in points per game, rolled up almost 500 yards and 42 points — the most since 2007 — last weekend against the Raiders. This week, however, should prove to be a test for a group still coming together with Mayfield under center.
— Meanwhile, the Ravens have had something of an offensive renaissance thanks in part to a new-look receivers room that includes Michael Crabtree and John Brown. "They got that guy Brown that can run. Oh can he run," Jackson said, laughing. "He can really run. Crabtree is real solid, very consistent, makes a lot of plays." Brown leads Baltimore with 15 catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
— With cornerback Terrance Mitchell out following surgery to repair a broken wrist, veteran E.J. Gaines is set to make his first start with the Browns since joining the team in free agency. A former pupil of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Gaines isn't a stranger to the big stage. He has 32 pass breakups in 36 career starts.
"We feel very comfortable with him stepping in," Jackson said. "He's a veteran player, he has played, he's made plays, he's played against a lot of these guys in the National Football League, so it's a tremendous opportunity for him. I think he's been waiting for this chance to walk out there first and show what he's worth. So he's going to get that opportunity."
— After a jittery debut in the season opener, rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison has settled in over the past three weeks. And this Sunday, of course, the undrafted free agent will have his hands full against Suggs and Co.
"I know he has a tall assignment ahead of him. They have good rushers. They have good athletic long guys who know how to rush the passer, obviously the No. 1 guy is Terrell Suggs. And so one thing I like about Desmond, he is not going to blink," Jackson said.
"He's going to go out and compete, and I am sure he is going to learn something as he goes through the game about these guys he is playing against and we got to do everything we can to help him and put him in the best position. Again, it is the way this league is. You play, you got to play against the best, and so he has got to be up to the challenge."