Ravens-Browns: What To Watch For
Jabaal Sheard vs. the Ravens offensive line
The talk all week has revolved around Paul Kruger, and rightfully so. The former Raven leads the team in sacks with three and is one of only 10 players in the league with a sack in each of their team's games. But against Baltimore, Kruger won't be able to do it alone. Barkevious Mingo has been listed as limited in practice all week with a nagging shoulder injury, meaning Jabaal Sheard will likely be getting most of the snaps at outside linebacker. Coach Mike Pettine mentioned multiple times this week how imposing Baltimore's offensive line can be. If Sheard can get going early, it'll force the Ravens to make some tough choices on which pass rusher to double-team. Last season the Browns sacked Joe Flacco five times in a 24-18 Week 9 win at FirstEnergy Stadium. A similar number might be in order to secure a Browns' win.
Related article: Why is Paul Kruger on fire?
Terrance West vs. the Ravens linebackers
It's hard to imagine, but there might be even more fuel in West's engine this week against the Ravens. West grew up rocking the purple and black every Sunday as a kid from his West Baltimore neighborhood. The rookie running back has shown he can juke defensive linemen and get to the second level of the defense. Here's the tricky part against the Ravens -- once a runner does make his initial burst, the linebackers are generally there in droves to meet him. West must remain patient against Baltimore and not try and run sideways if there's no hole open. It might take 10 smaller runs before West can break a big one, but if he does, watch out.
Torrey Smith vs. Joe Haden
Torrey Smith, alongside Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, has sort of been like kryptonite for Browns cornerback Joe Haden. Against Cleveland last season, Smith had 12 catches for 163 yards. Those aren't mind-blowing numbers, but they are enough to show Smith was able to consistently get open on Haden. There is a reason the Browns rewarded their cornerback with a healthy contract extension this summer – he's one of the best shutdown defensive players in the league. It's time for Haden to remind us of that notion on Sunday.