Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens Pick & Prediction SEP 13TH 2020

Complete TV: CBS M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore
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Two teams that know all about the weight of preseason expectations welcome the start of the regular season Sunday as the Baltimore Ravens take on the visiting Cleveland Browns.


The Ravens enter 2020 as the preseason pick to win the AFC North and contend for the Super Bowl. And why wouldn't Baltimore be on any short list of title contenders with veteran head coach John Harbaugh, 23-year-old quarterback and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, and 11 returning Pro Bowlers from a team that was 14-3 last season.


The incandescent Jackson is a huge reason for the Ravens' sky-high expectations. Jackson threw for 3,127 yards and a league-high 36 touchdowns, against just nine interceptions. He also set an NFL record with 1,206 rushing yards as a quarterback with seven scores on the ground.


But a clunker in the divisional playoff round against Tennessee left some thinking Jackson still has something to prove as an NFL quarterback. Jackson said whatever external expectations exist won't affect how he or the Ravens prepare.


"I really don't care about the hype or what people expect," Jackson said Wednesday. "I expect for myself and my teammates to go out there and produce and win games."


The Browns, meanwhile, caved to preseason expectations a year ago. Cleveland was a chic pick to win the AFC North in 2019, but quarterback Baker Mayfield regressed, standout defensive end Myles Garrett missed the last the six games of the season with a suspension, and Cleveland finished 6-10.


After the season, owner Jimmy Haslam wiped the slate clean -- again -- by firing head coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey.


The latest leadership duo of head coach Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry are tasked with trying to get the franchise on track. Sunday will be Stefanski's first game as an NFL head coach.


"We're not interested in excuses. I don't think anybody wants to hear them," Stefanski said. "It's hard for me to look far ahead and too far behind. I like where we are right now."


Mayfield threw for 3,827 yards last year, but had 21 interceptions against 22 touchdown passes. He still has a full complement of talented skill position players -- running back Nick Chubb, and flankers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. for example -- and the Browns tried to rework the offensive line and added help at tight end during the offseason.


Stefanski will be Mayfield's third head coach -- fourth if interim coach Gregg Williams counts -- in as many seasons as a professional.


"(That) could be an excuse if you use it, but that's not what I'm doing here," Mayfield said. "(The) singular focus is on this year and what we can do."


Opening the year with a win would be a big statement for Cleveland. The Browns are just 1-19-1 in season openers since returning to the NFL for the 1999 season. The lone win came in 2004, against Baltimore, and Cleveland is winless in 15 straight season openers.


The Ravens won't be expecting anything easy, however.


The Browns handed Baltimore its last regular-season loss, on Sept. 29, 2019, when Chubb rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns on a defense that was at times a bit soft against the run.


Harbaugh tried to stiffen that front in the offseason with veteran acquisitions on the defensive line in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe (13.5 combined sacks in 2019), and by drafting rookie linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison.


"It's a rivalry game," Harbaugh said. "We've had many knock-down, drag-out brawls with this football team and this organization. They played a great football game (last year) and beat us handily."


--Field Level Media


Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens

Quarterback Lamar Jackson picked up where he left off last season, completing 20-of-25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for a team-high 45 yards, as the Baltimore Ravens dumped the visiting Cleveland Browns 38-6 on Sunday.

Tight end Mark Andrews caught two touchdown passes, Marquise Brown had five catches for 101 yards, and rookie running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for two scores for the Ravens (1-0), who picked up their 13th consecutive regular-season victory.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and running backs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb combined for 132 rushing yards for Cleveland (0-1), which failed to win its season opener for the 16th consecutive year.

It was a sour debut for new coach Kevin Stefanski, who saw his team post its most lopsided loss in an opener since a 43-0 defeat to Pittsburgh in 1999.

Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, looked every bit the part. He completed 13 of 16 passes -- including 10 in a row -- for 208 yards and two scores in the first half as the Ravens raced out to a 24-6 lead by halftime.

The Ravens got rolling early. Cornerback Marlon Humphreys picked off Mayfield's fourth pass of the day, and Jackson capped Baltimore's first series of the year with a 5-yard touchdown to Andrews, who made a dazzling one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.

The Ravens made it 10-0 later in the first quarter after taking over inside the Browns' 30-yard line after a turnover on a Browns' fake punt. Justin Tucker converted a 41-yard field goal.

The Browns pulled to within 10-6 after Mayfield flipped a 1-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku, but kicker Austin Siebert promptly missed the PAT.

Jackson led the Ravens on a 99-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter -- just the third 99-yard march in franchise history. Dobbins finished it with his first career score -- a 3-yard run to the left corner pylon and a 17-6 lead with 2:53 left in the half.

Cleveland, now 1-20-1 in openers since 1999, had a chance for points late in the first half but Odell Beckham Jr. dropped a sure first-down ball on third-and-2, and then Siebert missed a 41-yard field goal attempt.

Jackson took advantage. He led an impeccable 69-yard touchdown drive in just 35 seconds, capping it with a 9-yard strike to Andrews for a 24-6 lead with just six seconds left in the half.

Jackson added a 19-yard touchdown to Willie Snead IV in the third quarter and Dobbins scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth.

Humphreys (shoulder) left the game in the second quarter and Ravens' left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) left in the third quarter. Neither returned to play.

The Browns played without defensive starters in cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) and linebacker Mack Wilson (knee). Rookie starting left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (leg), rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips (knee) and Njoku (knee) all left the game in the third quarter.

--Field Level Media