Browns/Ravens: 4 Keys To Victory Week 10

November 10, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens Matchup to Watch:

1 – Deshaun Watson vs. Lamar Jackson


This is an excellent chance for Deshaun Watson to win over the entire Browns fanbase on Sunday. If he could outplay Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, it would flip the narrative of fans’ concerns about Watson.

This rivalry is so hated by our fans, and Watson needs to embrace that in this game, it is just another reason why he needs to perform at a high level. The looming possibility of Jackson outplaying another Browns quarterback is frustrating.

Nationally and probably even to some Browns faithful, this is a tough matchup for our Cleveland Browns as Jackson is having what appears to be another MVP season. The Browns must figure out a way to slow down the athletic Jackson. In the past, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has had some moments with athletic ability to help contain Jackson. Cleveland can’t allow Jackson to make plays out of the pocket and must make him throw the ball down the field to enable our talented cornerbacks to make plays like Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson.

As for Watson, he will have to make plays with his arm in this game, and hopefully, he can find the touch again on his deep ball along with the short game. Watson can not take a lot of sacks in this game, and hopefully, he can use his speed to make a run here and there to keep the defense on its toes.

This match-up can not be underestimated; this will be an ample opportunity on Sunday for Watson to win over the team and the Cleveland fanbase.


Not enough people talk about the insane level of play Lamar Jackson is displaying in 2023, as he serves as the driving force behind the Ravens being considered Super Bowl contenders. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping, everything they do on the offensive side stems from his strengths and how dynamic he is, both as a rusher and a passer.

Deshaun Watson is coming off a solid game, showcasing numerous flashes of why the Browns invested so much capital to acquire him. His accuracy, football IQ, and anticipation were all evident, significantly elevating this offense compared to other recent quarterbacks. The most crucial aspect of this game for Watson will be playing clean football, not necessarily outperforming Jackson.

If Watson outplays Jackson, the Browns win, plain and simple. However, it’s challenging to find a single quarterback playing at a consistently higher level than Jackson this year, making it a tough strategy to rely on for winning this game. While outperforming Jackson would be great, it’s not something I expect, nor will the Browns lean on it to secure a victory. Watson needs to make timely throws, take what the defense gives him to gain yards and prioritize protecting the football to put the defense in better positions. This is more important than forcing the issue and attempting to win the game single-handedly.

2 – Browns running game vs. Ravens run defense


Reasonably, the run game has not been as dominant as in years past. The loss of All-Pro talents Jack Conklin and Nick Chubb has had a significant impact, and now the Browns are grappling with additional injuries to Dawand Jones and Jed Wills. The prevailing narrative about the Browns’ game centers on how they can find ways to be more consistent in running the football. While home run plays are great, the Browns have only had one game this year where they consistently gained good yardage on the ground while avoiding zero or negative yardage.

The Ravens currently rank seventh in defensive rush success rate, showcasing the toughness of their front unit. The health of the offensive line is not good at the moment, and it’s going to be difficult to have success on the ground with two backup tackles starting. They need to do their quarterback some favors, as constantly putting him in pass-heavy situations against a defense that loves to pressure the quarterback is not a recipe for winning in Baltimore.

In recent weeks, the Browns have utilized the split zone more than before, which is essentially an inside zone with a tight end coming across the formation at the snap to block the first man off the line of scrimmage. While they are naturally an outside zone scheme, this cannot be abandoned in just one week. The tackles must hold their own in stretch and wide zone run plays; otherwise, the run game risks becoming very one-dimensional and predictable.


In the last game, the Ravens did not allow the Browns run game to get into gear, as Cleveland only gained 93 yards on the ground. The Browns must get the running game going in Baltimore, which will not be easy against this stout Ravens defense. I suggest running Kareem Hunt in this game early and often, as he understands the importance of the game and can take the physical punishment. 

The offensive line for the Browns will be challenged, with both tackles facing injuries. Jedrick Wills will be out for this game, and Dawand Jones has not practiced on Wednesday and Thursday, putting his start in doubt.  Kevin Stefanski should run the ball up the middle, allowing his talented guards to lead the way. This would not be the game for the Browns to run left, which they love to do. 

With the injuries to the tackle position, the Browns must dig deep to keep their decisive running game going. 

3 – Browns defensive line vs. Ravens offensive line


In past results in this rivalry, this is the match-up that usually determines the outcome. The Browns must slow down the Ravens running attack, currently number one in the NFL. One can argue this might be more important than slowing down Jackson as if you take away the Ravens’ ability to run, it usually causes issues for Jackson.

The defensive tackles, who have been playing better lately, must step up. Dalvin Tomlinson is having a good season so far and will have to lead the effort in not allowing Baltimore to gash the Browns up the middle.

It will be interesting to see how Jim Schwartz prepares for this game when it comes to the line, as he loves to be aggressive, but in this game, he needs his talented ends, Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith, to hold the edge in this powerful rushing attack. And, oh yeah, bring down Jackson whenever possible. 

The good news is our defensive line is very talented and has proven it can play well in a big game like the 49ers. They will need that kind of performance on Sunday against the Ravens o-line.


Every week, the key to the Browns winning games lies in the trenches on both sides of the football. Defensively, this unit possesses the ability to consistently change the line of scrimmage, making life difficult for opposing offenses. The Ravens, while middle-of-the-pack in pressure rate allowed, excel at yards before contact and are among the best at creating running lanes, ranking third in rush success rate.

The Browns’ defensive line is currently sixth in pressure rate and eighth in yards before contact. In preparation for this week, they emphasized a lot of zone defense, recognizing that using man-to-man defense against Jackson could turn defenders’ backs and lead to more running lanes. While containing Jackson is no easy task, the Browns will need to adjust slightly from their ultra-downhill approach to getting after the quarterback.

This matchup promises to be a real heavyweight bout heading into Sunday. Both teams have excelled in this department, contributing significantly to their success. Whoever gains the upper hand on Sunday will likely have the overall edge in the game.

4 – Kevin Stefanski vs. John Harbaugh


While some vocal fans have been clamoring for his job, it’s evident that Kevin Stefanski is one of the better minds and coaches in the NFL. His strength lies in his scheme and play-calling abilities. Leading a team to a 5-3 record under the circumstances of this season is impressive, and he’s more likely to be in contention for another Coach of the Year Award than facing the possibility of being fired. Despite facing a weak Cardinals team last week, the Browns needed the win and played with that mindset, dominating entirely from the first snap.

John Harbaugh is a good coach, and the new coordinator, Todd Monken, has significantly improved the scheme for Jackson. While they still use a lot of motion to disrupt defenders’ eyes, the formations are now more traditional from the shotgun compared to the heavy-set pistol formations under Greg Roman. The Ravens have consistently excelled on the ground, and Harbaugh always seems to have his team ready for big matchups.

Playing with third-string linemen at tackles is never a recipe for beating a true contender on the road, making it difficult to judge anyone too harshly based on the outcome of this game. Game planning for these kinds of circumstances is asking too much for one person to overcome, and it will require a true collective effort from both the players and the coaching staff to secure a win in Baltimore.


I have seen a different Stefanski in 2023, and it has helped with the Browns record being 5-3.  Stefanski needs to keep the ball and time of possession in the Browns’ favor in the game, which he has been doing most of the season. I would encourage some aggressive play calling at the right moments, as the Browns need to score in the mid to upper 20s to win this game.

He also needs to get the Browns to realize the importance of this game outside of the one-game-at-a-time approach. This Sunday and next Sunday against the Steelers are different games with emotion. The Browns need to play with emotion, and it is up to Stefanski to provide that spark.

John Harbaugh usually has the Ravens play at their best against Cleveland, and he can be aggressive; the Browns must punish Harbaugh for risky play calling. When the Browns have won against Harbaugh, they usually exploit his aggressiveness.

Stefanski has not done well against match-ups like this in the past; hopefully, he can rise above it on Sunday, as the Browns need him to be at his best.

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