<
>

Four keys for Ravens, Browns

Brady Quinn and Ray Lewis will square off in Cleveland Monday night. US Presswire

Football is only halfway complete in the AFC North for Week 10.

Here are four keys for Monday night's matchup between the Baltimore Ravens (4-4) and Cleveland Browns (1-7):

1. Where is Cleveland's energy level?

On paper, the Ravens have enough talent to make this game a laugher. But much of that will depend on Cleveland’s energy level at home. The Browns are the well-rested team. They are coming off a bye and haven’t played a game in two weeks. But it will be interesting to see if Cleveland has enough zeal to play hard in this game. Considering their record, the Browns have nothing to play for other than pride and perhaps ruining another rival’s season in the Ravens. Will that be enough for the Browns to show up?

2. It's Brady Quinn's time to shine

As we mentioned in our weekend feature, if Quinn wants to be the long-term quarterback of the Browns, this is the time to show it. It may be his final opportunity as poor play earlier this season and trade rumors are already getting warmed up in preparation for the offseason. Quinn was born in Columbus, Ohio, and realized one of his dreams by being drafted by the Browns, a team he rooted for growing up. But the past three years have been mostly a nightmare of riding the pine, injuries and poor play. He can work to erase all of that with a great performance Monday and the rest of the regular season.

3. Can Baltimore improve the pass defense?

Two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens finally showed glimpses of how good they can be defending the pass and rushing the passer. But Baltimore reverted back to its prior struggles in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, making many wonder once again if this is a problem that’s able to be corrected this year. Every team has weaknesses. But Baltimore’s inability to defend the pass has stuck out so much that nearly every opponent is testing the Ravens in that area before doing anything else. The Browns may not have the personnel to attack Baltimore through the air, but rest assured, Cleveland will take some shots with nothing to lose.

4. Must-win for Baltimore

This is very much a must-win for the Ravens, so they too must play the part of a desperate team. Baltimore cannot afford to fall to 4-5 with seven games left with such a crowded field in the AFC. The Ravens didn’t seem very urgent in last week’s loss to the Bengals. Look for Baltimore to play with much more energy and try to make a statement early against the Browns, who have lost a lot of games this year by wide margins.