After a disappointing 24-20 loss to the New York Giants, the Baltimore Ravens face the Cleveland Browns in Week 7. As a divisional matchup, there is no doubt that this game will have playoff implications down the stretch.
The Browns are currently on a three-game losing streak. and are third in the AFC North with a 2-4 record. The Ravens are currently ahead of the Browns in the division and have a record of 3-3.
Despite the Browns being disappointing so far, their star running back, Nick Chubb, has been the key offensive piece for them. Stopping Nick Chubb is key for the Ravens to beat their division rivals.
READ MORE: Ravens Tight Ends Stepping Up
The Cleveland Browns Go As Nick Chubb Goes
Entering Week 7, Chubb has put together some superb performances. Over the first six weeks of the season, Chubb has managed a league-leading 649 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He averages an impressive 5.9 yards per attempt. This season, four of his games have gone over 100 yards.
.@NickChubb leads the race. 🏎 pic.twitter.com/2ouWztsVJY
— NFL (@NFL) October 20, 2022
Against the Patriots, Chubb recorded his least efficient game. On 13 touches, the star running back recorded 70 yards but no touchdowns. The Browns lost the game 38-15 due to Bailey Zappe’s stunning display but stopping Chubb was key to giving the Patriots a chance.
Chubb has been essential to Cleveland’s offense this season, being the feature back for the side and ensuring the offense stays ahead of the chains. He is especially important given that the team is awaiting Deshaun Watson’s return, meaning Jacoby Brissett is currently QB1.
So far, teams have had a tough time limiting Chubb’s impact. His blend of speed and strength is unrivaled. The 26-year-old has proved to be an effective all-purpose back, finding success in all situations (from first down to third down to goal-to-go).
Baltimore’s Run Defense Versus Nick Chubb
The Patriots made run defense a priority against the Browns. By ensuring that the box was consistently stacked, and Chubb was always accounted for, the former second-round selection had a solid but unspectacular game. The main reason the Patriots won the game so comfortably was by forcing the Browns to rely on the pass rather than the run.
Slowing Chubb down meant that the Browns could not stay ahead of the chains early in the game against the Patriots. With Zappe making the most of his chance, the chasing Browns were forced into passing more and, thus, moving away from Chubb.
This season, the Ravens run defense has been stout. They currently rank seventh in the league allowing just 103.8 rush yards per game.
The Ravens defensive line unit has been spectacular, especially the interior. The team lost Michael Pierce to injury, but rookie Travis Jones was able to step up against the New York Giants. Alongside Jones, Justin Madubuike has been a surprise package this season and Calais Campbell has been exceptional as always. Odafe Oweh is not the strongest run defender but has been improving while Jason Pierre-Paul has been delivering efficient performances so far.
Rookie DT Travis Jones shows his power with a sack on the Giants' first offensive play. 💪 Then Jones shows his nimbleness, getting back to his feet after being cut to swallow up Saquon Barkley's direct snap run. pic.twitter.com/P3DHZj2zmm
— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) October 18, 2022
Overall, the Ravens performance against Saquon Barkley was solid. Though he scored the winning touchdown, he was limited to just 3.8 yards per carry, his second-lowest average in a game this season.
Stopping Chubb is key for the Ravens. However, it will be even more of a test than Barkley. The Browns offensive line is more impressive than the Giants, and Chubb poses a larger ground threat than Barkley.
Ravens Offense’s Role
Limiting Chubb’s impact is not solely the responsibility of the defense, however. It is a well-known saying in sports that attack is the best form of defense and this is particularly suitable for stopping the run. There are two things the Ravens offense can do to help their defense.
Lamar Jackson’s offense suffered another fourth-quarter collapse to allow the Giants back into the game. The first half, however, was dominated by the Ravens. They seemed to have all the offensive momentum but held just a one-score lead heading into halftime.
The first thing that the offense must do to aid their defense is score when they have momentum. The side has struggled in the redzone thus far, and the loss of J.K. Dobbins will not help with that. However, the Ravens need to find a way to kill off their opponents when given the chance. If they allow the Browns to linger, Chubb will continue to be a threat. Jackson must be clinical.
The second thing the Ravens need to be aware of is controlling the clock. With Dobbins out, the role of Kenyan Drake will be imperative to this. After a breakout game against the Giants, Drake is projected to be the team’s lead back. The Ravens need to be winning the time-of-possession battle to ensure that the Browns have limited rushing opportunities. If Gus Edwards can contribute, he’s a nice bonus, but fans shouldn’t expect too much in his first game back from injury.
Stopping Chubb is key for a Ravens victory against the Browns. If the Ravens offense can score when they are ahead and win the time-of-possession battle, they will force the Browns into chasing the game and, thus, throwing the ball more. This is essential for keeping Chubb out of the game.