COMMENTARY | The 2013 Cleveland Browns appear to have a competent quarterback for the second time this fall. Now, let's see if this one can stay healthy.
Cleveland took many positive steps when at the Kansas City Chiefs this past weekend. There's an argument to be made, in fact, that the Browns should have won that contest. Still in the playoff hunt, they must now knock off a division rival at home in order to enter the Bye week at 4-5.
The Browns would, at 3-6, be done.
Browns vs. Ravens preview: Campbell
Cleveland isn't getting an elite running back before winter comes. That is a fact. Thus, the team's offense will, as has been the case since August, live and die via the play of its quarterback.
Jason Campbell was more than just serviceable against a Chiefs defense that has beaten up plenty of QBs in 2013. Campbell finished with 22 completions on 36 pass attempts, 293 passing yards and two touchdowns. The confidence that the Cleveland offensive line and wide receivers had when Brian Hoyer was under center but then lost when Brandon Weeden replaced the injured Hoyer returned, as did a little trickeration to the team's playbook.
Every weekend brings with it a personal playoff game for Campbell. Odds are that this could be the last time he will be entrusted with a professional football offense if he flops. Campbell is playing for more than just his team over the next two months.
Browns vs. Ravens preview: The past
There is just about nothing one can take from when these sides met back on September 15 when previewing this contest. Weeden isn't starting. Josh Gordon, who was suspended at the time, will be in the Cleveland lineup. Ray Rice is expected to be at 100 percent.
It's that final point that should worry fans of the Browns. Rice is undeniably having a down season, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry. He's only found the end zone thrice. With that said, Rice has also owned the Browns throughout his career, and he is rested with the Ravens coming off a Bye week. Opponents are rushing for over 100 yards per game against Cleveland, and I wouldn't expect that trend to change this weekend.
Browns vs. Ravens preview: Prediction
The Ravens of the John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco era literally never lose coming off a Bye. Literally never. They are also playing to save their season. It's possible, as of Thursday afternoon, that Baltimore losing to Cleveland could land the Ravens four games back in the division standings with half of their season left to play.
This Baltimore team is different, though. The team's defense is not nearly as dominant as in prior years, and a lack of real play-makers has been a massive hurdle that Flacco has not yet found a way to clear. One off week doesn't fix either of those problems.
I don't believe Cleveland is sniffing a playoff spot this season. They're not awful, though, and having even a decent quarterback makes them a difficult team to defeat. Expect it to be close and nervy, with the Browns holding on late for the win.
For more: Gordon stays put
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010
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