Thursday, November 10 | 8:25 pm EST
The Cleveland Browns are still winless in 2016 coming into Thursday night football this week. Should be a slam-dunk at home for the Ravens, right?
Wrong! (in my best Donald Trump face!)
Here’s why—it’s a short week for the Ravens, too, who got bumped around and banged up a little in their 21-14 win over the Steelers on Sunday. Guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) is doubtful after missing practice all week. Rookie running back Kenneth Dixon (chest) is questionable. Cornerback Shareece Wright (thigh) and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) are still out.
And while the Ravens offense is still struggling, Cleveland’s defense is stouter than their record indicates.
Baltimore had only 42 total yards total offense in the second half against the Steelers.
As the Ravens move forward with the league’s No. 2-ranked defense, they know they still have to pick it up with the No. 27-ranked offense—and it makes no difference whether they’re playing the Browns or the Patriots at this point.
Coach John Harbaugh says it’s getting better.
“When you’re involved in it, when you’re in the middle of it, you see the progress in every little area,” Harbaugh said. “We’re making progress in many areas.”
“If we run routes better, if we protect better, if we read things out better – all of the different things that each guy has to do a little bit better – it goes a long way across the board and gets you over the hump,” Harbaugh said.
“We make two plays in that Steelers game – we have a route up the right sideline and a route up the left sideline – if we make those two plays, I think you see a dramatically different output and therefore outcome. It’s that close, but it’s that far until you do it consistently. We’re doing it a lot of times, but we’re not doing it consistently. That’s what we have to find a way to do. I’m absolutely certain that we will do it.”
The Ravens did have one of their best offensive days in Week 2 against the Browns, a 25-20 win. Flacco completed 25 of 45 passes for 302 yards – just five short of his season high against the New York Giants. He tossed two touchdowns (both to wide receiver Mike Wallace) and two interceptions.
“We just have to keep staying confident and not lose that belief in ourselves, and get down on ourselves,” Flacco said. “We have to realize that we’re in a good position (at 4-4). A lot can come from it.”
Terrance West appears to still be the leading running back with Kenneth Dixon at No. 2 and Buck Allen as the No. 3 option. With Dixon nursing that chest contusion, Allen will probably get a lot more action. Allen impressed on special teams against the Steelers with a punt block.