CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns remain the only winless team in the National Football League, but they have a chance to break their franchise-record 12-game losing streak tonight in an AFC North Division clash with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
Just four days removed from a 35-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Browns travel to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to take on a Ravens team that despite their 4-4 record, lead the AFC North Division.
“Our guys, if I can say anything about them, they fight,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “They play hard. They do everything we ask of them. No one is perfect. Football is not perfect, but our guys try and that is more than you can ask for sometimes in certain situations. This team has been through a lot, but they keep on swinging.
“Do we want to go out there and win the game? Yes, we are not going there just to show up. We are going there to win the game. It is a division game against a division opponent, a good football team who is leading the AFC North, and we have to go play well to do that. That is what we are looking forward to doing.”
The Ravens made a change at offensive coordinator just over one month into the 2016 regular season, and they are reaping the benefits of that as they sit atop the AFC North Division after a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.
Over their first three weeks under the direction of new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the Ravens have averaged 20 points per game. Prior to the change, the Ravens scored 20 or more points in just two of their first five games of the season.
Since the change, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco has completed 69 of his 122 attempts for 796 yards with one touchdown despite being sacked seven times for 54 lost yards, and has continued to develop a rapport with wide receiver Mike Wallace.
In the last three games, Wallace has turned 18 catches into 341 yards and one touchdown, a 95-yard score in the 21-14 win over his former team in the Steelers. After having just one game of more than 70 yards receiving over the first five weeks, Wallace has gone for 97, 120 and 124 yards in the three games under Mornhinweg.
“He is definitely putting his influence on the offensive football team, but at the same time, I think we all know that takes a little time,” Jackson said. “I think they are working through those kinks as they go, and I think their players are becoming more comfortable.”
Although the Browns were close in four of their nine losses this season, including the one to Baltimore in Week Two, they have surrendered 28 or more points in five straight games, and at least 31 in four of the last five outings.
Defensively, the Browns rank near the bottom of the league in several key statistical categories. They have surrendered an average of 30.3 points (31st), 421.7 yards (31st) and 146.4 rushing yards (31st) through the first nine games of the season.
“I just know Hue and I know what kind of competitor he is and what kind of a great coach he is,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I see what he is doing with the offense and what he is doing with his team and it is very recognizable. You can tell what he is building, and as an opponent, that is our concern is how we are going to take on that challenge.”