After a 40-25 victory over Baltimore, are the Browns back?

By Kyle Johansen

Are the Browns back? A week after looking lost as a starving stray dog, the Browns brought the blitzkrieg to Baltimore, shredding apart the Ravens defense for an obscene 8.9 yards per play. This was no box score fraud, as the Browns thoroughly outplayed the Ravens and did it on Baltimore’s home turf.

The Browns had 10 plays of over 16 yards and put up a total of 530 yards on Baltimore. This was the second game in a row that the Ravens allowed over 500 yards, after giving up 503 yards at Kansas City last week. Giving up that kind of production to the Chiefs is one thing, but the Browns? This was completely unexpected. While part of the story is that Baltimore was overrated coming into this game, big props need to be given to the Browns.

Cleveland looked inept on offense last week while hosting the Rams. The same Rams team that then gave up 55 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home this week. If that doesn’t convince you that none of us have much of a clue what’s going to happen in the NFL on a weekly basis then nothing will. It’s also a great reminder to never overreact to one week of football.

Cleveland Browns Offense

So, how did the Browns go about their dismantling of the Ravens defense? Basically, it was the Nick Chubb show. Chubb carried the ball 20 times for 165 yards, highlighted by an 88-yard sprint to the endzone. It wasn’t just the speed of Chubb though, which was blinding on the big run, but it was multiple broken tackles his other two touchdown runs. Nick Chubb is the complete package, and he proved it on Sunday.

While Baker Mayfield didn’t set the world on fire like Chubb, he played his best game of the season averaging over 10 yards per attempt. Mayfield finished 20-30 for 342 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Mayfield hit seven different Browns for completions, but focused mainly on slot receiver Jarvis Landry, who caught 8 of 10 targets for 167 yards.

The most surprising part of the Browns passing attack was that while the team put up 40 points, Odell Beckham Jr. was lost in the shuffle once again. Despite receiving 7 targets, Beckham caught just 2 balls for 20 yards.

Baltimore Ravens Offense

The Ravens were effective on offense but ruined any chance of winning the game by turning the ball over three times. Coming into the game, the Ravens had yet to lose a turnover. Mark Ingram lost one fumble, and Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions to seal the Ravens fate.

On the ground, the Ravens had no trouble moving the ball, but the game script didn’t allow them to continue pounding the rock as much as they would have liked. At the end of the day, the Ravens carried the ball 29 times for 173 yards, 66 coming from Jackson and 71 coming from Ingram.

Through the air, Lamar again carried himself well, until the two interceptions are accounted for. In total, Jackson was 24-34 for 247 yards with 3 TD to 2 INT.

Browns Defense vs. Ravens Defense

Historically the comparison of these two defenses has been no contest, but it appears clear that in 2019, the Cleveland Browns hold the edge over the Baltimore Ravens on defense. Heading into the game, Cleveland ranked #8 in DVOA on defense while Baltimore ranked #19.

Cleveland got to Lamar Jackson for four sacks, while the Ravens could only get Baker on the ground once. The Browns also limited Lamar Jackson to just 5.8 yards per pass, while averaging 10.5 yards per pass against the Baltimore defense. In total, the Browns 8.7 yards per play completely dwarfed the Ravens 5.9 yards per play.

Takeaways from Browns at Ravens

As quickly as the public jumped off the Browns bandwagon, they’ll probably jump back on just as fast. The Browns could end up being a public dog this week at San Francisco where they are currently 4-point underdogs. That line appears to be fair, but if it heads down to 3 points there could be value on the home favorite.

The Ravens coming back down to earth was expected. But despite the embarrassing way they lost to the Browns at home, the Ravens are still 3-point favorites on the road at Pittsburgh. While not much can be gleaned from the Steelers impressive victory Monday night at home against the Bengals, the market may be holding too close to the early season narrative of the Steelers collapse and Ravens rise to AFC North dominance.

Consider the Ravens schedule so far: their week one dismantling of the Miami Dolphins was a glorified preseason game, and they failed to cover the spread in week two against the winless Cardinals. In week three, the Ravens go the backdoor cover at Kansas City, but were aided by a couple of ridiculous Hail Mary bombs from Lamar Jackson that just happened to fall into the hands of Ravens receivers.

The line of Ravens -3 does make sense considering a 6-point adjustment from Big Ben to Mason Rudolph. However, Rudolph finally looked comfortable last night and gets another home game this week against a suspect Ravens defense. There may not be value at the current number, but with heavy juice on the Ravens -3, if the number gets to 4 or above there may be value on the home underdog.


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