By Chris Lovi and Will Strome, NFLWeather.com
The NFL has reached the midpoint of the season, and the weather will have an increasing impact on games moving forward. This Sunday the Baltimore Ravens travel to Cleveland Municipal stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North matchup. NFLWeather forecasts a slight chance of showers, mostly cloudy skies with a high near 45 degrees.
The Ravens have won the last nine matchups against the Browns in what used to be a bitter rivalry between a divided House of Modell. However, the Browns hung tough against the Ravens week 4. If there is indeed rain, then both teams will lean on their respective star running backs.
Baltimore is coming off one of the worst losses in franchise history and, without Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb, this game has become a must win if John Harbaugh wants to get his guys back on track. To do that, the Ravens offense must include Ray Rice in as many plays as possible. Earlier this season, the Browns defense did a good job in shutting down Rice, who only rushed for 49 yards on 18 carries. However the Browns’ Stadium’s slick grass surface which could be advantageous for Rice’s small frame and explosive speed. Even though quarterback Joe Flacco is an accurate deep ball passer, rain could limit his ability to stretch out the Browns secondary.
Brandon Weeden and the Browns offense look to break their losing streak. Last week with a rib cartilage injury, rookie running back Trent Richardson ran for a season high 122 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers defense. Don’t expect the Baltimore Ravens defense or the weather to slow down his offensive productivity this week. Last week the Ravens’ defense surrendered over 400 yards for the first since 2009. If the weather forecast remains the same, the key to the Browns game plan will be to avoid turnovers, sustain long drives and control the clock, something which they have done a good job at lately. That could mean a lot of touches for Richardson.
Retractable Reliant Roof is the 12th Man for Houston Texans
When the Houston Texans host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. NFLWeather.com forecasts a 30% of rain and thunderstorms with a high near 80, enough for Reliant Stadium to have already announced that the retractable roof will be closed. The direct sunlight would have added about 15 degrees to the heat index so field level could hit the mid 90s. In what will still be a muggy, grind it out football game it will be Arian Foster against a defense ranked dead-last against the run. Conversely, it doesn’t matter whether its Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller who get the touches because neither will be doing much of anything against a Texan defense that surrenders only 83 on the ground, ranked third in the NFL.
Chris Lovi & Will Strome Columnists, NFLWeather.com
NFP (at) NFLWeather.com