The Ravens’ Week 10 opponent, the Cleveland Browns, are 0-9, the NFL’s last winless team. The Ravens, on the other hand, though they are just 4-4, sit atop the AFC North.
In years past, we would be telling one another it’s just the Browns and counting this as an automatic win.
Sorry not this time around, particularly on a short week.
The good news is that, since we all know that this will be no “gimme,” there is no worry about it falling into the category of the dreaded trap game. This is going to be a battle of two teams doing whatever they can to string together a victory.
Many of the players that spoke at the podium following practice on Tuesday certainly aren’t overlooking Thursday night’s match-up.
“Every team in this league is dangerous any given week,” stated Joe Flacco about facing the Browns on a short week. “I think you can see that. You see a team beat somebody that hasn’t lost yet, and then the next week they go and they lose to somebody that you expected them to beat.
“It’s the same way. The fact that they have zero wins … Let’s say they had two wins. There’s really not much difference in that. The bottom line is, they’re an NFL team, and they’re very capable of winning games. They just have to find their rhythm, just like a lot of teams out there, us included. I think on your guys’ end, when you’re a team that’s in front of the division, and with how the outside world looks at it, if the Ravens lose this game, it just looks bad. It looks bad because we lost to a team that doesn’t have any wins.
“That’s the reality of it; it just doesn’t look good. It’s really not any better for us if we’re playing a 9-0 team and we lose to them. We’re still in the same position. We’re 4-5, and we’re not leading the division probably anymore and things like that. It’s not our job to worry about the perception of what’s going to happen when we win [or] what’s going to happen when we lose.
“We just have to go out there and win the game and try to win the game the best we can.”
Despite Cleveland’s record, this will be another tough contest for the Ravens. While Baltimore squeaked out a five-point win earlier this season, they trailed 20-0 at one point. In addition, the Browns were victorious the last time they visited M&T Bank Stadium (33-30 OT).
Safety Eric Weddle summed it up nicely.
“I do not think there is [concern], just because we have not done anything yet,” stated the first-year Raven. “We are 4-4. We sit at the top of the division, but one loss and you are out.
“This is a division game, a rival. They were up 20-0 on us and easily could have beat us, so we can look at many factors to remind ourselves that we can’t take anything for granted. We have to play together; we have to play great football on our side of the ball in all three phases to get a win. That is not just against Cleveland; that is against anybody in this league.
“Cleveland has shown that they are very capable. They are very capable of scoring points – [gaining] lots of yards, making big plays. They have just been unfortunate on a few plays throughout the game. They get down in the score, and that is why the scores have been lopsided. But they are very capable; they have talented players on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
“We have to go out and play great. That is what we are going to try to do.”
Now that the Ravens have that winning taste in their mouths again, here’s hoping the switch gets flipped and the team can go on a roll.
This isn’t a “trap game.” It’s just another tough, must-win game.
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