Without a late one point loss to the Eagles in a poorly officiated match, the Baltimore Ravens would be undefeated at 3-0. Regardless, the Ravens look like they’re destined to go deep into the playoffs this year, just as they have done for the last four years and will provide formidable opposition to the 0-3 Browns.
Having brought back the tough defence that is almost synonymous with the franchise, the Ravens have benefitted from a much improved Joe Flacco, who had a reputation for being a game-manager rather than an elite QB. Flacco trails only Eli Manning in yards per game.
Behind Flacco sits undisputed top-three running back Ray Rice, who leads the league in rushing touchdowns. If you dig a little deeper there is wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played a sensational game just hours after he found out his younger brother was killed in a motorbike accident, and emerging tight end Dennis Pitta.
Having played on Sunday evening the Ravens face a shorter turnaround, which many believe is the only thing that could lead to a Browns win, and even then that remains extremely slim, with bookmakers making the Ravens 11 point favourites.
Cleveland go into Thursday’s game with an 11 game losing streak in the AFC North, and also 11 road games within the division. Adding to the negatives, Cleveland has a rookie quarterback and running back. QB Brandon Weeden ranks at the bottom of most statistical categories for quarterbacks that have started all three games this season. Trent Richardson, the Browns running back, has had an average start to his season, rushing for 175 yards and 2 TDs at a substandard 3.5 yards per carry despite being picked third in this year’s draft.
With both teams looking forward to a 10-day break after Thursday’s game they will be willing to lay it all on the line but very few people will be expecting anything but a convincing Ravens win.
Prediction: Baltimore 30 – 13 Cleveland
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