Ravens put win streak on line vs. rival Browns

The Baltimore Ravens are starting to run away with the AFC North. Baltimore is riding a four-game winning streak and will attempt to continue distancing itself from the rest of the division Sunday when it faces the visiting Cleveland Browns. After surrendering 14 points in the fourth quarter of an ugly 17-10 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 8, the Ravens (7-2) caught fire, going on to outscore opponents 130-49 over the next four weeks. In last Sunday’s 37-3 rout of the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore amassed 515 total yards of offense, with 298 of those coming on the ground. Rookie Keaton Mitchell ran for 138 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, while fellow running back Gus Edwards found the end zone on two of his five touches. Quarterback Lamar Jackson also got in on the action by rushing 10 times for 60 yards. The Ravens are quickly emerging as one of the teams to beat in the AFC, but the last thing coach John Harbaugh wants is a group that starts to become complacent. “What the standings are now are not important,” Harbaugh said. “It’s what the standings are after the last regular-season game that matter. Our guys really understand that.” If the season were to end today, all four teams in the AFC North would secure a playoff berth, as the Browns, Steelers and Bengals are all 5-3. That makes Baltimore’s current stretch crucial, as the Ravens are set to face Cincinnati just four days after the meeting with Cleveland. But Harbaugh insists that the Ravens are focused on the Browns and the Browns only. “We got to take care of business. First things first. We have the Browns,” Harbaugh said. “It’s gonna be all about the Browns, and that’s it.” Focusing solely on Cleveland is probably the right move, considering just how good the Browns’ defense has been through the first nine weeks of the season. Cleveland allows the fewest yards per game (234.8) and third-fewest points per game (17.4) in the NFL. The only defense better? It belongs to Baltimore, which ranks second in total defense (262.6 yards allowed per game) and first in scoring defense (13.8 points allowed per game). The Browns’ defense was at its best last weekend, shutting out the Cardinals for a 27-0 Cleveland victory. Arizona scratched across just 58 yards of total offense, the third-fewest allowed in a game in Browns’ franchise history. It was a different story when Cleveland faced the Ravens earlier this season, though, as Baltimore rolled to a 28-3 win on Oct. 1 when Cleveland was without quarterback Deshaun Watson (shoulder).