8:20 PM ET, September 27, 2012
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
The Ravens have won eight straight over their AFC North rivals, and the Browns are the conference's only winless team heading into this matchup at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore (2-1) will be playing its third prime-time home game after Sunday night's 31-30 comeback victory over New England. The Ravens have now won 13 straight in Baltimore including one playoff win.
"We've played Thursday after a Sunday but we haven't played Thursday after a Sunday night," coach John Harbaugh said.
Safety Ed Reed isn't happy about the quick turnaround, making that clear in comments Tuesday.
"I never liked it when the Thursday night game came out," Reed told the Ravens' official website. "It's all about money. Like I said, it's out of my hands."
Baltimore may be hosting the perfect opponent under these circumstances. Besides joining New Orleans as the league's only teams without a win, Cleveland (0-3) enters on losing streaks of 11 straight in AFC North play and 11 on the road within the division.
The Ravens are downplaying all the streaks that are in their favor.
"It's going to be a huge challenge for us," Harbaugh said. "I know they're going to come in here, a division game, a big rivalry game, always a big emotional game against the Browns. We've played a lot of tough games against these guys."
Weeden has thrown an AFC-high six interceptions, was sacked a season-high four times in Sunday's 24-14 home loss to Buffalo and will now stare down a defense with perennial All-Pros Reed and Ray Lewis for the first time. Weeden's 60.7 quarterback rating is the league's third-worst.
The Ravens are limiting opposing rushers to 3.3 yards per carry for the league's fourth-best mark as they get their first look at Richardson, who was held to a season-low 27 yards on 12 carries Sunday.
"It's going to be an honor just being on the same field as Ray Lewis," Richardson said. "I've looked up to him for years, still look up to him, especially to his leadership and how he handles things. But you know, it's going to be like another game."
Richardson's counterpart, Ray Rice, is coming off his first 100-yard rushing game of the season and could be in for another Thursday. Rice ran for a combined 291 in last year's two-game sweep of the Browns.
Baltimore, though, is wary of seeing Cleveland's rookies break out Thursday.
"It's a first time for everything," Harbaugh said. "So you don't know how they're going to respond and they don't know how they're going to respond."
The three days off may mean the most to Torrey Smith, who scored two touchdowns Sunday less than 24 hours after his younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident as the Ravens rallied around him.
Smith is up to a team-high 235 yards receiving, and Joe Flacco is second in the NFL with an AFC-best 913 passing yards to go with a 101.1 QB rating. The Ravens have scored a conference-high 98 points.
"I've always been a Joe Flacco fan," Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. "I thought he's always been a good quarterback, a top-level quarterback in this league."
Flacco has started every game in this win streak over the Browns. The quarterback, in truth, has been called upon to do little in those games, with Cleveland averaging 11.4 points in those eight defeats.
That kind of anemic production was expected to change with the additions of Weeden and Richardson, but Cleveland's 57 points are tied for the league's fifth-worst total.
The Browns last started 0-4 in 2009.
"I look and we've got 13 games left," Shurmur said. "It's about winning your division, so you can get into the playoffs. Nobody in our division has won all their games. We've got a division opponent on the road with a great opportunity to get the ship righted on Thursday night."
Cleveland will be hampered with top receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Alex Smith unavailable. Massaquoi is bothered by a pulled hamstring and Smith has a concussion that also caused him to miss last week's game.
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After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 4 Browns-Ravens matchup.
• Get Richardson his touches: The Browns' most talented offensive threat is rookie Trent Richardson. He had only 12 rushes in Week 3 and needs to get more touches to control the clock versus a stingy (3.3 yards per attempt) Ravens run defense. Given a crease Richardson is tough to tackle downfield. He is a reliable receiver out of the backfield and we are likely to see Cleveland rookie QB Brandon Weeden get him the ball on option routes and screens in hostile territory.
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|Avg Points Allowed||24.5||20.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||CLE|
|Rush Yds Allowed||CLE|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Baltimore leads 17-7|
|Dec 24, 2011||CLE 14, @BAL 20|
|Dec 4, 2011||CLE 10, BAL 24|
|Dec 26, 2010||CLE 10, BAL 20|
|Sep 26, 2010||CLE 17, @BAL 24|
|Nov 16, 2009||CLE 0, BAL 16|
|Sep 27, 2009||CLE 3, @BAL 34|
|Nov 2, 2008||CLE 27, BAL 37|
|Sep 21, 2008||CLE 10, @BAL 28|
|Nov 18, 2007||CLE 33, @BAL 30|
|Sep 30, 2007||CLE 27, BAL 13|
|Dec 17, 2006||CLE 17, @BAL 27|
|Sep 24, 2006||CLE 14, BAL 15|
|Jan 1, 2006||CLE 20, BAL 16|
|Oct 16, 2005||CLE 3, @BAL 16|
|Nov 7, 2004||CLE 13, @BAL 27|
|Sep 12, 2004||CLE 20, BAL 3|
|Dec 21, 2003||CLE 0, BAL 35|
|Sep 14, 2003||CLE 13, @BAL 33|
|Dec 22, 2002||CLE 14, @BAL 13|
|Oct 6, 2002||CLE 21, BAL 26|
|Nov 18, 2001||CLE 27, @BAL 17|
|Oct 21, 2001||CLE 24, BAL 14|
Brandon Weeden went 0-of-9 with three interceptions on passes more than 10 yards downfield in Week 1, but has bounced back by completing 11 of his last 23 attempts with just one interception. Weeden faces the Ravens Thursday, who have the second-worst completion percentage allowed (62.9) on such throws.[+]
Brandon Weeden Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield - This Season
Ray Rice is averaging 6.0 yards per rush between the tackles this season, second-highest of any player with 20 such rushes. Rice is benefitting from his blocking, averaging a league-best 4.7 yards before first contact on such runs. The Browns have allowed the third-highest yards per rush average between the tackles this season (5.1).
ESPN Stats & Information