“It will be a dog fight.”
While the Browns playoff hopes are gone, there is still plenty on the line when they take the field at M&T Bank Stadium at 4:25 p.m. December 30.
A victory gives the Browns a sweep of the Ravens for the first time since 2007. In addition, Cleveland finishes with an above 500 record for the first time since 2007 as well. Last and certainly not least, a win eliminates Baltimore’s chance at the AFC North title with a Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Yes the Browns can help the division rival that’s located in between Cleveland and Baltimore. That’s not the focus going into the season finale.
“It is what it is. We have to go ahead and do our job,” Williams said. “It is about how we focus to do our job. That is just one of the other window dressing things that goes on out there.”
“It would be nice. Do not want to see either of [the Ravens or Steelers] in,” Myles Garrett said. “If we can win this last one, it will be special to us.”
“I am just going into the game and approaching it as we are trying to finish 8-7-1. Whatever results of that, it just results of it,” Damarious Randall said. “I do not really think about if we win, we are helping Pittsburgh or if we lose, we are helping the Ravens. I really do not look at it like that.”
“It is a lot of motivation, and it is not just about them,” Baker Mayfield said. “It’s about us winning and going out on a high note, even though the playoffs are out of reach. It is about us. That is what it has always been about so that is the motivation. The true motivation is taking care of business, making sure everybody knows exactly the standard around here. Keep talking about setting a standard and winning is that standard so that is the goal this Sunday.”
Mayfield has a lot at stake in Sunday’s season finale. He is three passing touchdowns away from breaking the rookie record for touchdown passes. It will be tough against the number one defense in the NFL.
“Obviously, it has been a top defense in the league for years, but they are playing really, really well right now. They’re able to do a lot of things out of the same personnel and just give different looks,” Mayfield said. “They do not just have one thing that they do very well; they do it all. It is not like you can key in on any tendencies, stuff like that. You just have to be paying attention, go through your base rules and execute.”
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The Ravens are a different team since the week five meeting. Joe Flacco is out. Lamar Jackson is in at quarterback. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner has guided Baltimore to five wins and perhaps a division title and playoff berth. Jackson is the main reason the Ravens have become one of the best running offenses in the NFL. The Browns defense has to eliminate Jackson’s threat of running and make him throw the football to beat them.
“I think he is a rookie man. He is going to make mistakes,” T.J. Carrie said. “Playing in this league is definitely hard in every position, especially at quarterback position. Yeah, there are going to be occasional bad throws and occasional situations where he does not make as good of judgement calls, but doesn’t take away his talent, ability and things that he can do on that field as far as his arm strength and what he can do with his legs.”
“Corral him and do not let him outside of the pocket,” Garrett said. “We know he is special when he can make things happen with his feet and get outside, and he can throw on the run and he can make people miss. Do not let him get that opportunity.”
“I think the Ravens are by far, since he has taken over as quarterback, the heaviest run offense in the NFL on first, second and third down if it is not third-and-long. So there is a chance that they are going to line up and run the ball and try to run the ball downhill on third-and-five,” Joe Schobert said. “You really have to come into it with a little bit of a different mindset as anybody else in the NFL. It is going to be a challenge, but I think we are up for it.”
Sunday will be bitter sweet for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. The legendary Browns tight end will step down at the end of the season. It’s only appropriate the the Browns and Ravens face off in Newsome’s final game as Baltimore’s general manager.
“Oh, it is great.,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We meet every day. Our relationship has been I would just say for me in some ways life changing. He has become one of my best friends, a mentor and just a guy I can go to any time and ask a tough question or seek out advice or whatever. He deals with me, which I appreciate, and we work really closely together. For whatever reason, it has really worked well. So I am just very grateful for having the time to work next to him all of these years.”
CBS Sports will broadcast the game. Kickoff has been changed from 1:00 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. The number one NFL on CBS broadcast crew, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson will call the game. In addition, you can listen to the Browns radio broadcast on SiriusXM channel 390.