Ravens-Browns matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Dec. 23, 2010 @ 9:08 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Ravens-Browns game. 

Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. the Browns' run defense 

Rice played exceptionally well in the Ravens' win over New Orleans Sunday, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries and catching six passes for 80 yards and a TD. Rice gave the Saints' defense fits in both phases, with his quickness and strength making him tough to bring down and his versatility allowing the Ravens to deploy him in a variety of ways. 

Rice attempted just 15 rushes vs. Cleveland in Week Three, but considering how much success the Ravens had with a run-first approach a week ago, as well as the Browns' continued problems shutting down the run, he could be busier on Sunday. Of note: Rice racked up 80 yards on those 15 carries (5.3 ypc). 

The Ravens will spell Rice with Willis McGahee, a bigger, more powerful back capable of doing some damage himself. McGahee rushed for 53 yards on just seven carries vs. New Orleans. He has just 90 carries in 13 games this season but could get more work in the final weeks if the Ravens start leaning on the run more heavily. 

The Ravens are most likely to run off the left side, with C Matt Birk, OLG Ben Grubbs and OLT Michael Oher being Baltimore's linemen to watch when Rice or McGahee heads this way. Browns NT Ahtyba Rubin, DRE Brian Schaefering, RILB Eric Barton and ROLB Jason Trusnik are corresponding Cleveland defenders to watch in these situations. 

The Browns have held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing just three times this season, and they surrendered a combined 380 rushing yards in losses to Buffalo and Cincinnati the past two weeks. Baltimore racked up 109 yards on 27 carries in Week Three. Look for the Ravens to test the Browns' ability to stop the run a little more in the rematch.