NFL Monday Night Preview: Baltimore vs. Cleveland

Screenshot_1On a Monday night in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens will square off in a less than stellar match-up, under the bright lights and infamous stage of Monday Night Football.

Strangely enought, the National Football League usually wants to highlight it’s best rivalries and teams in their primetime slots, but come tomorrow that will not be what ends up happening. But that also doesn’t mean it won’t be an interesting game. For the Sunday Night Football schedule, NBC has rare deal with the NFL, they can flex games in and out to make sure they cover a great matchup. Unfortunately, ESPN doesn’t have the same priviledge with their deal on Monday Night Football, and so this week that disadvantage is glaringly showing.

So with the only game on the docket, the Browns will host the Ravens at their FirstEnergy Stadium. If you add up both their games in thw win column, then the two clubs combined only have five wins! For Cleveland, the main reason or excuse has been their abysmal quarterback situation. which is still a total mess. That’s been a nagging problem and nothing new for the city on the shores of Lake Erie, since the team’s comeback in 1999.

On the other hand, Baltimore has been destroyed and absolutely ravaged by injury after injry to their key players. The Ravens lost outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to a torn Achilles back in Week 1, and since then lost for the season; wide receiver Steve Smith to Achilles injury, running back Justin Forsett to a broken arm, and quarterback Joe Flacco to a torn ACL. With such huge pieces gone down for the season, Baltimore didn’t have what it took to win those super tight or close games which they lost by inches or minutes.

So with that, fans can expect to see an irrelevant battle between Browns’ Josh McCown and Ravens’ Matt Schaub. It’s going to be quite ugly at times, and you might need a few drinks during and afterward. Commentators like Jon Gruden will do their best to make it feel like fans are watching the Super Bowl, but in reality it should be a useless game in the big picture. A battle of the bottom, per se.

Browns’ Johnny Manziel threw for a career-high 372 yards in their most recent game coming off a bye, a 30-9 loss in Pittsburgh. Originally, Manziel was set to start the rest of the Browns games this season to see if he could be a NFL Quarterback, but instead, he underwhelemed greatly. So tomorrow night, McCown will fill in. On the Ravens’ side, with their franchise quarterback out for the rest of the year (with a torn ACL and MCL), backup Schaub will have to make the best of a lost season and maybe show what he’s got in the final stretch, if anything.

This is new ground for Baltimore, who will start a quarterback that’s not named Joe Flacco. It will be the first time since 2007. Just because the teams have done well, does not mean it will not be a competitive. It will probably come right down to the wire, (as has every Ravens game this season), so you can’t knock them for lack of excitement. But facing-off against the Browns without their main offensive weapons won’t be easy after losing Flacco and Forsett in Week 11. So meltdowns and turnovers, interceptions and maybe even more injuries could be on the horizon.

The Browns are 2-8 on the season. The Ravens’ passing game is at least ranked seventh, compared to the 26th-ranked pass defense of the Browns. This matchup is a toss up because the Ravens will be unable to start anyone on the field without the increasing risk of an injured reserve designation following shortly after. The Browns will probably be unable to get themselves straightened out enough to win another game.

Schaub has only appeared in two games, last season for the Oakland Raiders so he is lacking seriously experience and exposure. McCown, at times has played well this season but he has a 1-6 record as the Browns starting QB, and one win does not make a trend. So we’ll give it to the home team, since Baltimore just haven’t been able to get any ball luck going this year.

Our Pick: Cleveland 17, Baltimore 14