There’s a little thing called a presidential election Tuesday, but let’s not forget we have a football game to play Sunday, folks. Division game, at that. And let’s face it, after the recent debacle against the Houston Texans — in combination with season-injuries to Ray Lewis and Ladarious Webb — the Ravens’ 5-2 record doesn’t look so shiny at the moment. It may only be the lowly Cleveland Browns (2-6), but a win would feel good right about now.
At last glance, the oddsmakers have Baltimore favored by 3.5.
Most of the talk on the Ravens’ side this week centers around Ray Rice, who many feel isn’t getting enough carries, and Baltimore's suddenly vulnerable, 30th-ranked, run defense, which must stop the Browns' Trent Richardson, who had a career-high 122 yards yards last week. According to conventional wisdom, the team that establishes their running game first will have the upper hand.
With that in mind, here’s a look at what some of the players, coaches and Cleveland-area media have been saying this week:
From the Akron Beacon Journal: “I would say they are going to run the ball,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, a former Kent State head coach. “I wouldn’t think that would be rocket science. That’s what they do best anyhow, and right now, we haven’t done well defending the run, especially the last three games. So that’s what we are expecting them to do. We have to get up there and stop it.”
Vic Carucci, senior editor, ClevelandBrowns.com: "Run, run, run and run some more. Trent Richardson demonstrated last week that he is ready to literally carry the offense on his back. He doesn’t necessarily need to do that, because the Browns do have the ability to make plays through the air. But it makes perfect sense for the Browns to try and exploit the Ravens’ struggling front seven; they’re allowing an average of 142.9 yards per game on the ground."
Browns head coach Pat Shurmur at ESPNCleveland: “I would love to pound it. I would love to be able to pound it and score points. To be able to do that I think is great and we’re all sitting in our kitchen by 5 o’clock. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to score points. I’ve said this often, that Trent needs to be involved. That means you can throw it to him, you can hand it to him and you’ve got to do what you think is best to move the football. We all know that involves some sort of balance, which means you run the football some and sometimes more than others, sometimes less than others, but you’ve got to try what you can to score points.”
Browns’ Trent Richardson on Terrell Suggs’ return at Cleveland.com: "He brings a whole different dynamic to the table," said Richardson. "He's one of those guys that doesn't get tired of hitting you."
Ray Rice at ESPN.com: "I know where I am most effective. That 20-to-25 touch range is usually pretty good, but we know there’s only one football to go around," Rice said. "With the talent that we have on our offense, the more and more we are capable of using everyone, the better we’ll be. Obviously, this is the healthiest I’ve felt in a while — obviously, coming off the bye and doing the right things to take care of my body. I’m looking forward to a nice workload the second half of the season.”