Ron Glover’s Preview and Prediction: Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: Can the Ravens defense hold Trent Richardson in check?

(Getty Images)

Trent Richardson has to go above and beyond for the Browns to have a chance tonight.

The Baltimore Ravens opened up the 2012 season against the Bengals, Patriots and Eagles. Ray Lewis and Co. are a questionable call in Philly from being 3-0. They’re also a reviewable call from possibly being 1-2.

Tonight the Ravens have the Browns coming into M&T Stadium on a night where the regular officials will make their season debut.

Before the Ravens can mark this one as a win they must control Trent Richardson.

(SI.com)

Ray Rice could be in for an offensive explosion against the Browns.

The Cleveland Browns, losers of nine straight games have a tall order heading into Baltimore tonight to face the Ravens. The Ravens have owned the Browns winning eight straight over the last four years. The task is great for the Browns who scored 24 points against the Ravens in their two meetings last season. Now with a rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and rookie running back Trent Richardson the Browns need to take care of three offensive needs: Ball control, clock control and sound protection. 

Defensively, they have to stop Ravens running back Ray Rice who has gained at least 80 yards on the ground in their last five meetings. Rice’s career average against the Giants is a healthy 96.9 yards per game including a 204 yard outburst last December.

Rice is seventh in the NFL in rushing averaging less than 20 carries per game.

Joe Flacco will look to pass more than he has in recent seasons. Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin are his primary targets and when all else fails that’s when Rice becomes most dangerous doubling as a receiver.

This makes the Browns task of pinning their ears back and going after Flacco more of a guessing game than part of the gameplan. The Browns are going to have to give Flacco different looks, get their shots in and hope for the best.

The Ravens have been on both sides of poor officiating during the lockout. No one wants to win or lose that way but they’re 2-1 and it could be worse.

Brandon Weeden is going to make mistakes against this defense and the Ravens are counting on that. Ray Lewis is going to move in and out looking to confuse Weeden and the offensive line.

The Ravens must key on rookie Trent Richardson. The Ravens run D hasn’t been as stout to open the season. The potential for the Ravens D to pitch a shutout is a real possibility. The Browns have to look for lapses in the Ravens defense where they may overpursue, opening themselves up to a deep ball or some trickery.

Prediction: Ravens 31 – Browns 12

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