Folks, this one has the feel of a playoff game as the 2-4 Browns must end their three-game losing streak. The Ravens come in at 3-3 and atop the AFC North, so this one is as big as can be in Week 7.
Let's take a look at the Browns keys to victory in this week's winning mix.
1. Score 20-plus Points
The Browns are averaging a healthy 24.7 points per game this year, good for seventh-most in the NFL, so scoring 20 should not be a problem — but it is an almost magical number against the Ravens, who make it very difficult to get to 20 most weeks. Last week, the Browns were held to a season-low 15 points in the big loss to the Patriots, so getting this offense going will be critical to a win.
Last year, the Browns picked off QB Lamar Jackson four times in Baltimore, but they didn't get to 20 and lost 16-10. At home, the Browns hung 24 on the Ravens and won the game 24-22. Scoring 20 is not just a thing for the Ravens when playing the Browns — it is a huge threshold no matter the opponent. In 2022, the Ravens are 1-3 when they allow 20-plus points and 2-0 when holding their opponent to 19 or fewer. All time, the Ravens are 59-146 when allowing 20-plus and a ridiculous 177-40-1 when holding an opponent below 20. Getting off to a fast start offensively, finishing drives with points and breaking past the 20-point barrier is a must for Jacoby Brissett and company on Sunday.
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Baltimore Ravens
2. Contain Lamar Jackson and Capitalize on Mistakes
Jackson accounts for more than 80 percent of the Ravens offense this year, the highest percentage of any one player in the league. He can beat you with his arm, as his 13 passing touchdowns can attest, or with his legs, where his 75 yards rushing per game and 8.1 yards per carry are both career highs. You can't fully stop Jackson, but you can hope to contain him, as the Browns did in Baltimore a year ago.
In that game, the Browns limited Jackson to 68 yards on 17 rushes, or exactly four yards per carry. His 8.1 rushing average this year is the best in the NFL and if the Browns can keep him from hitting the big runs and around four yards per carry again, they should be able to turn up the heat in third and long situations.
That will require great discipline not only in their run fits, but also in their pass rushing lanes. Putting the Ravens in disadvantageous down and distance situations could lead to Lamar having to make tight window throws and providing the Browns defense with turnover opportunities.
Ronnie Harrison, Grant Delpit, Denzel Ward and John Johnson III all intercepted Jackson in the game in Baltimore a season ago. This year, Jackson has thrown a pick in four straight games and five of six on the season with six total interceptions. With a healthy Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett finally back on the field together, the Browns should be able to turn up the pressure on Jackson, who is completing 47 percent of his throws with two picks and a 61 rating when under duress.
3. Clean Sheet on Offense
For three straight weeks, I've put this one here — and three straight weeks the Browns have failed to protect the football or win the game. The Browns are 11-2 under Kevin Stefanski all time when they do not commit a single turnover, and they are 2-0 this year with a clean sheet. They are 0-4 however when committing just one single turnover in 2022 and are coming off of a season-worst three turnovers against the Patriots in the worst loss of the season. The Browns must protect the ball against the Ravens in order to secure the win and you better believe that the Ravens will be ball seeking on Sunday.
Baltimore comes into the game with at least one takeaway in an NFL-best eight straight games. During that span they have generated a ridiculous 16 turnovers, including 12 already this season (eight interceptions and four fumbles). The Browns must protect the football to protect their season and get a massive win.