Here's a matchup to watch in Saturday's Browns-Ravens game:
Ravens DTs Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody vs. Browns OLG Jason Pinkston, C Alex Mack and ORG Shaun Lauvao
The success of Cleveland's running game is dependant upon its ability to attack the middle of the defense. The Browns primarily run behind the center and their guards. Their top two running backs, Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty, are best running inside. If Ngata and Cody too often prove to be immovable or start ending up on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage, then this could be a long day for Cleveland.
Ngata (6-4, 330 pounds) is exceptionally athletic and is capable of being a top-caliber run stuffer and a disruptive pass rusher. He has notched 56 tackles and five sacks. He knocked down a pair of Browns passes in the first meeting. Cody (6-4, 349 pounds) also moves relatively well and makes his biggest impact vs. the run.
Hillis got off to a strong start in the first meeting with Baltimore. His first three rushes went for seven yards (off left guard), nine yards (right guard) and eight yards (left guard). After that, though, the running game didn't do much, and the Browns primarily had to lean on the passing game as they fell behind.
Hillis, who gained a season-best 99 yards on 26 carries last week, is likely to get most of the carries in the rematch. One of his best games with Cleveland came at Baltimore a season ago, when he rushed for 144 yards and racked up another 36 receiving yards in a 24-17 Cleveland loss.