Monday Night Football Week 12: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

Nov 30, 2015 by Scott Ross

It’s the Who’ll Get the First Pick in the Draft? Bowl!

The Baltimore Ravens are 3-7, tied for the fourth-worst record in the NFL. But as you look at the numbers, they don’t appear all that bad. They’ve only been outscored by 2.3 points a game – less than a field goal. All but one of their losses was by 6 points or less, and the one that was over was by 8 (still technically one possession). The Ravens' kicker, former Pro Bowler Justin Tucker, has twice missed field goals that would’ve made the difference between winning and losing. Tucker came into the season with the best field goal percentage of all time, but now has the fifth-worst field goal percentage in the NFL, largely because he’s made only 2 of 7, 29%, from more than 50 yards out, while the league average is 67%. If Tucker were just average at that distance, the Ravens are potentially 5-5. This is not to hang all the Ravens’ problems on Tucker: the Ravens’ offense can’t and shouldn’t be proud to have racked up the second-most 50+ yard field goal attempts this season.

There had already been grumbling out of some corners of the Baltimore Ravens’ fan base that the team had screwed up by letting Tyrod Taylor go in favor of $20-million dollar man Joe Flacco. Now that Flacco’s gone down with a season-ending injury, the sight of Taylor leading the NFL in completion percentage must sting even more. You gotta hand it to Flacco, however: he tore his ACL and MCL during the Ravens’ final drive last week against the Rams, but stayed on the field to help set up the game-winning field goal. It’s not clear that kind of toughness is worth $20 million, but it’s worth something. However, none of that changes the fact that Flacco’s TD-to-Interception ratio of 14/12 is well below the league average, as is the running game, making it real hard to score. Further crippling their prospects is a broken arm suffered by lead running back Justin Forsett.

Add to all that the fact that the Ravens’ D has forced just 9 turnovers, third-fewest in the league, including a league-low 4 interceptions, and surrendered the sixth-most passing TDs, and you can see there’s plenty of blame to spread around.

The Cleveland Browns are another story entirely, owners of the worst record in the league, 2-7, and richly deserving. They have the second-worst point differential, at -9.1, and things are getting worse, as they’ve lost their last 4 by an aggregate score of 119-45.

This season, the Browns find themselves in the bottom five in points, yards per play, turnovers (including a league-worst 14 fumbles lost), first downs, rushing attempts, yards, yards per carry, and penalties. What’s incredible about the Browns fumble problems is that not one of them has been by a running back, as QBs Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel have 9 and 5 respectively, while throwing just 11 and 5 TDs.

Sadly, Manziel has bigger problems than a case of fumblitis. Last week video surfaced of him in a club, proudly brandishing what looks like a bottle of champagne and posing for selfies with fellow partiers. Manziel had spent 10 weeks the past offseason in rehab, and in October police pulled over his car when an argument he was having with his girlfriend “got out of hand.“ The latest revelation came just a week after he’d been named starting QB, a mantle that reverts back to McCown.

Stats courtesy Pro Football Reference and ESPN.

Watch the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Cleveland Browns at 8:30pm ET Monday on ESPN.

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