AFC NORTH PREVIEW: Ravens want another win vs. Browns
BALTIMORE — Coming off one of the worst losses in franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens sure could use a feel-good win on a day they celebrate last season’s Super Bowl triumph.
As luck would have it, the Ravens’ opponent in their home opener today is the Cleveland Browns.
Baltimore set two dubious franchise records in its 2013 debut at Denver on Sept. 5, allowing 49 points and seven touchdown passes for the first time.
The Ravens insist they’ve corrected most of their flaws in that 22-point defeat, and that the difference will be evident against the Browns.
Following pregame festivities that will include raising the banner to mark their Super Bowl victory last February, the Ravens face a team they have dominated ever since coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco first got together before the 2008 season. Since that time, Baltimore is 10-0 against the Browns while outscoring the AFC North rival 251-122.
Throw in that the Ravens are 33-7 at home over the past five years, and it appears Baltimore (0-1) couldn’t ask for a better scenario.
Naturally, the Ravens aren’t acting as if this one’s a gimme. They point out that Cleveland has a new coach, Rob Chudzinski, and two new coordinators, Norv Turner on offense and Ray Horton on defense.
“It’s different from year to year. It’s definitely a different team,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
“These guys are a good football team,” Flacco insisted. “They have a physical defense, and they’ve always had that since I’ve been here.”
But the Browns (0-1) lost 23-10 at home to Miami in Chudzinski’s debut, out- scored 17-3 after halftime.
Cleveland yielded six sacks against Miami, and now the offense is going up against two of the best sack specialists in the NFL, Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
“It’s a big challenge for our guys. They’re really going to need to step up,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll do some things from a schematic standpoint to try to help and have a plan. We have to execute the plan.”
Browns rookie LB Barkevious Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick, is expected to make his NFL debut after missing the opener with a bruised lung sustained during an Aug. 15 preseason game against Detroit.
One of Cleveland’s most notable free agent signings during the offseason was linebacker Paul Kruger, who returns to Baltimore on a day the Ravens celebrate the Super Bowl he helped them win.
“I was there for four years and have so many friends and people over there that I still talk to,” Kruger said. “It’s going to be different for sure, but I’ve made this place a new home and am really loving it here.”