Tonight’s Monday Night Football game sees a divisional matchup between the Cleveland Browns (2-8) and the Baltimore Ravens (3-7). Whilst it is hard to imagine either team making the playoffs this season, both teams are in contention for getting the 1st pick in the 2016 NFL draft. The Cleveland Browns this season have suffered some heavy defeats at the hands of the Rams, Steelers, Bengals and Cardinals and have the 2nd worst points differential in the NFL, but there have been some occasions for excitement in the 2015 season, like in week 5 in a 33-30 overtime win over the Ravens in which QB Josh McCown shined. The other story following the Cleveland Browns this season is the QB controversy with Johnny Manziel being given the starting role, only to be demoted down to third string after a video of him partying was released online. The Baltimore Ravens will also be disappointed with their season so far having lost seven games, however the silver lining is that they have managed to be competitive in each game, becoming the first team in NFL history to have their first ten games decided by fewer than eight points. That being said with the mounting list of key players injured, QB Joe Flacco, RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith and two offensive linemen Eugene Monroe (OT) and Kelechi Osemele (OG) doubtful, the question is now whether they can remain competitive.
Keys to the game
Can Josh McCown give a repeat performance of week 5?
Veteran QB Josh McCown will be a key figure today for the Browns, in week 5 in their OT Win 33-30 over Baltimore, McCown threw for a team record 457 yards with 2 TDs, 0 interceptions and a QB rating of 111.3. McCown has been a solid starting QB for the Browns this season and if he pick up where he left off before his injury the Browns Offense should do well tonight.
Can the Ravens offense still be productive?
The Ravens offense has been decimated with injuries this season, and now with starting QB Joe Flacco and RB Justin Forsett out for the season tonight’s game will be an indicator of things to come for the Ravens. Matt Schaub will be starting for the Ravens in his first time starting a game since 2013. Despite the critics of Schaubs arm strength Marc Trestman (Ravens Offensive Coordinator) has praised Schaubs football intelligence and leadership skills. Ravens fans will be hoping these will be enough to keep the Ravens competitive.
That’s right, kickers!
Both teams tonight can boast that they have productive kickers. The Browns have rookie Travis Coons who so far this season has a 100% record making all 16 of his Field Goal attempts, including field goals in key situations like with his game winning over time 32 yard field goal in week 5 against the Ravens. The Ravens on the other hand have Justin Tucker who has proven to be clutch in field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime making 16 out of 17 in those periods, including a 47 yard field goal as time expired last week against the Rams.
Matchup to watch
Joe Thomas vs Elvis Dumervil
Elvis Dumervil leads the Ravens defense with 4.5 sacks this season and will be hoping to put a lot of pressure on Josh McCown to stop the Browns offense. Browns QBs this season have been sacked 36 times, only Seahawks Russel Wilson has been sacked more (37). It’ll be up to Joe Thomas tonight to try and contain Dumervil and prevent him from disrupting Josh McCown in hopes that the Browns offence can gather momentum.
The Ravens defense this year has been mediocre (ranked 17th in the NFL) and if McCown and the Browns offense get rolling it will be very hard for the injury depleted Ravens offense to outscore them.