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Five reasons why Ravens can't take Browns lightly

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Five reasons why Ravens can't take Browns lightly

The Ravens have won 13 of their last 14 against the Browns, including seven straight at home. Which means the Ravens will beat Cleveland again Sunday (1 p.m.) at M&T Bank Stadium, right?

Probably, but here are five reasons why the Ravens (1-3) can’t take the Browns (1-3) lightly:

1. Browns quarterback Josh McCown has beaten the Ravens before.

Two years ago with the Bears, McCown was the starting quarterback when they beat the Ravens, 23-20, in overtime. McCown has thrown for at least 341 yards in his last two games, with four touchdowns and one interception. He’s playing with confidence.  If the Ravens’ secondary leaves receivers open, McCown will find them.

2. Close games are what the Ravens do.

All four Ravens games have been decided by six points or less. If you’re a Ravens’ fan, you’ve probably forgotten what it feels like to start the fourth quarter with a two touchdown lead. Win or lose, the Ravens usually make you sweat, regardless of who they play.   

3. This will likely be Joe Flacco’s first game in two years without wide receiver Steve Smith.

With Smith (back) listed as doubtful, tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) out, and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (back) done for the year, Flacco is short some of his favorite weapons. That means Flacco could face a day of throwing to tightly-covered receivers, meaning the offense could struggle.

4. The Browns have a big-play receiver.

Travis Benjamin is averaging 20.5 yards per catch. He has four touchdown catches already, tied for second in the NFL behind Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals (five). Benjamin may not be a household name, but he’s very fast.  Speedy receivers like A. J. Green and Amari Cooper have burned the Ravens’ secondary already this season.

5. Flacco has thrown at least one interception every game.

Having thrown five interceptions this season, Flacco must avoid throwing into coverage, and resist the temptation to force risky throws if receivers are covered. Turnovers can be the great equalizer. It could spell trouble for the Ravens if they gift-wrap scoring opportunities.

Yes, this is a game the Ravens are expected to win. But as we have seen already this season, no wins are guaranteed.

[RELATED: Ravens' top draft pick undergoes knee surgery]

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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