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Browns face another tough divisional opponent

(TSX / STATS) -- BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns could not have faced a tougher road to begin the 2017 season than the one they are facing, but there is no use complaining about it, so after losing 21-18 to the Steelers in the opener in Cleveland it's on to Baltimore for Week 2 on Sunday in M&T Bank Stadium.

The Steelers and Ravens have dominated the Browns like no other teams in the league since 1999. They are now 6-31 in the regular-season against the Steelers since 1999 and 9-27 against the Ravens - just 4-14 against the former Browns franchise in Baltimore. It is not the way a 1-15 team in 2016 would like to start a new era with rookie DeShone Kizer at quarterback.

"This is tough, but this is the National Football League and he signed up for this so you have to go," head coach Hue Jackson said. "We're going to play another good team in a good stadium. Obviously, they come off a big win (20-0 over the Bengals), and it will be loud and it will be rocking there in their stadium. He has to go handle that environment and handle it the right way."

The Browns beat the Ravens, 33-30, in overtime in Baltimore in 2015 on a 32-yard field goal by Travis Coons. Before that you have to go back to 2007 when a field goal by Phil Dawson gave the Browns a victory by the exact score - 33-30 in overtime - in Baltimore.

Kizer threw one touchdown pass and one interception against the Steelers in the opener. He was sacked seven times, in part because he held onto the ball too long rather than risk making a mistake. He will have to be especially careful on Sunday if what the Ravens did to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is a signal about how the Ravens will play defense this season.

The Ravens picked off four of Dalton's passes - one each by defensive backs Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb plus another by linebacker C.J. Mosely. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce recovered a fumble forced by Terrell Suggs.

The Browns controlled the Pittsburgh running attack, holding the Steelers to 35 yards on 17 carries, but they are facing a bigger test Sunday. The Ravens used a grind-it-out ground game so quarterback Joe Flacco, coming off a back injury, wouldn't have to carry the load in his first game after missing the entire preseason. Ravens backs carried the ball 42 times for 157 yards, led by former Browns running back Terrance West with 19 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens controlled the clock, holding the ball 34 minutes to 26 minutes for the Bengals.

The game plan the Ravens used to beat the Bengals is the blueprint the Browns want to follow - not just Sunday but in every game; play a suffocating defense, use a strong running game so Kizer can grow into the position and not be forced to throw 35 passes. Kizer was 20 of 30 for 222 yards against the Steelers.

SERIES HISTORY: 37th regular-season meeting. Ravens lead series, 27-9. It was bad enough for the Browns before the Ravens drafted quarterback Joe Flacco in 2008, but it has been even tougher on them since then. The Browns have faced the Ravens with Flacco 17 times and beaten them only twice.

--Left tackle Joe Thomas has never missed a snap since the Browns made him the third pick of the 2007 draft. He will reach 10,000 consecutive snaps on the fourth offensive play Sunday.

"It's unbelievable," quarterback DeShone Kizer said. "I don't know if I've taken 10,000 snaps ever of football in my life, and he's done it in the NFL. Obviously, he's a unicorn and he's going to have a gold coat coming soon. To be here alongside of him and to be a small piece of what he has been able to do in this league is an honor for me."

Updated September 13, 2017

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