BALTIMORE (AP) -As usual, the matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens features a team with playoff aspirations against a struggling club seeking to make something out of a disappointing season.
The difference this time is that the high-flying Browns are favored to win this matchup of AFC North teams heading in opposite directions.
Cleveland (5-4) has won three of four and whipped the Ravens by two touchdowns in their first meeting on Sept. 30. Baltimore (4-5) has dropped three in a row and been outscored 59-14 in the last two.
``Considering how we've played and how they've played,'' Baltimore defensive end Terrell Suggs said, ``they deserve to be favored.''
Because the Browns went 6-10 in 2005 and 4-12 last year, and given that Cleveland has lost four straight in Baltimore, Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel finds it strange to the favorite on the Ravens' home turf.
``When you look at my record for the last two years, yeah, it is,'' Crennel said. ``We've won some games, and now people are talking about us like maybe we can play, maybe we can coach.''
After opening the season with a 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh, Cleveland stunned Cincinnati 51-45. Then, after they blew away Baltimore, the Browns began to realize they just might be good enough to compete for a playoff spot.
``I think it helped tremendously, because the Ravens were a division winner last year,'' Crennel said. ``What it did, it showed my team that we've made some progress and we can compete with good teams in our division.''
One reason for Cleveland's success is the play of quarterback Derek Anderson, the Ravens' sixth-round draft pick in 2005. He was claimed off waivers by the Browns in September of that year, and is in the midst of a breakthrough season in which he has thrown 20 touchdown passes.
``He's been able to run his offense, and the guys have rallied around him,'' Crennel said.
Baltimore quarterbacks Steve McNair and Kyle Boller, in contrast, have combined for five TD passes. With McNair nursing a sore shoulder, Boller will be called upon to revive an offense that has produced only 10 touchdowns and committed 19 turnovers.
If Anderson was still part of the Ravens, he might be in the mix. Heck, he might be starting, and Baltimore might even have a winning record.
``I don't really dwell on it or think of it,'' Anderson said.
Similarly, former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis is sporting a forget-the-past attitude for his return to Baltimore. Lewis ran for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens in Cleveland, an experience that enabled him to purge any emotion he might have playing against his former team.
``I'm not really caught up with that. We played them one time, so I already dealt with that,'' Lewis said. ``It will be interesting starting out in the visitor's locker room, being a visitor in the city, but we're still just trying to go out and get a win.''
The Ravens, meanwhile, are seeking their first division victory after going a collective 0-4 against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Of course, when you've dropped three straight and have a losing record, you can't be picky about who you beat.
``A win's a win. It's nice in the division, but I don't care,'' left tackle Jonathan Ogden said. ``If we were playing UCLA this week, we'd need to get a win. It doesn't matter to me.''
A victory might also bring some normalcy to a world in which the Ravens are underdogs to Cleveland.
``I believe if we win,'' Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott said, ``then we tie it up for all the critics that were making all the comments about how great their season was, considering we would have the same record.''

Recent NFL Discussions

Advertisement

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Redskins 2016 Win Total Pick   After being the surprise winner of the NFC East in 2015, can the Washington Redskins find a way to have another big season in...
Thumbnail Bills Season Win Total Prediction Rex Ryan blew into Orchard Park last January with his patented bravado dialed up to 11, but all the swagger in the world couldn’t mask another disappointing...
Thumbnail Chicago Bears Win Total Picks The Chicago Bears find themselves in a competitive NFC North Division. Can they navigate the waters in 2016 to have a winning...
Thumbnail Rams Season Win Total Prediction Amid all the hullaballoo surrounding their move (back) to Los Angeles, the Rams actually lost some fairly significant pieces on the personnel side. Will a new man...
Thumbnail Dolphins Season Win Total Prediction With a new head coach and several fresh faces, will the Miami Dolphins win over or under 7 games in 2016?
More inNFL Articles  

NFL Team Pages