By Matt Citak
Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season was full of surprises, one of which was the close game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland ran out rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to start under center, yet the Browns were in the game until the very end, losing by a final score of 21-18.
Kizer found some success against the Pittsburgh defense, completing 20 of 30 passes for 224 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The rookie quarterback out of Notre Dame also picked up 17 yards and a touchdown on five rushing attempts. However Cleveland’s offensive line, which figured to be a strength for the Browns after signing free agents JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler to join Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio and Shon Coleman, allowed their quarterback to be sacked seven times.
On the other side of the field, the Baltimore Ravens are coming off a strong Week 1 performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens defense forced five turnovers from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (four interceptions, one fumble) while limiting him to 170 passing yards en route to a 20-0 blowout in Cincinnati. Six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has served as the leader of the Baltimore defense since joining the team in 2003, led the way with two sacks, two tackles for loss, six total tackles and a pass defended.
It wasn’t all good news for the Ravens though. After signing Danny Woodhead to a three-year, $8.8 million deal during the offseason, Baltimore watched the pass-catching running back get carted to the locker room on the team’s first drive of the season. Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury and will be forced to miss at least four weeks. The injury leaves the Ravens with Terrance West and Javorius Allen as the only healthy running backs on the roster.
James Lofton, NFL on CBS game analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer, will call the Browns-Ravens game along with play-by-play announcer Andrew Catalon and sideline reporter Steve Tasker. Loften looks at the matchup, as well as the Patriots-Saints and Jets-Raiders games that highlight Week 2 of the 2017 NFL season.
Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens – 1:00 PM ET – CBS
CBS Local Sports: Baltimore’s defense looked great last week, forcing five turnovers and sacking Andy Dalton five times. How will DeShone Kizer fare against this Ravens defense?
James Lofton: Anytime you’re a rookie quarterback, it’s a whirlwind every week. You’re trying to learn who your opponent is while you’re still trying to figure out some of the offense. It’s kind of like taking baby steps. DeShone Kizer is very talented, but still, this is his first go around. Last game was at home and was a tough game. This game is on the road at M&T Stadium… an even tougher place to play.
CBS Local Sports: What’s the best positional matchup in Sunday’s game?
James Lofton: The most fun [matchup] to watch will be Joe Thomas and Terrell Suggs, two guys that have Hall of Fame credentials. If it were just those two on the field, you’d still have 50,000 people there to watch them.
CBS Local Sports: With Danny Woodhead out 4-6 weeks, will Javorius Allen be able to step in and take over as the team’s pass-catching back?
James Lofton: It’s a little different. Danny Woodhead was so good at it. One of the three or four best running back-receivers in the league. So you probably have to look elsewhere. They have three tight ends on the roster. They like all of those guys a lot. They also run a three wide receiver set, so maybe this just means a few more balls down the field to the wide receivers.
CBS Local Sports: Although they signed Kenny Britt to a big deal during the offseason, has Corey Coleman surpassed him as the team’s top receiver?
James Lofton: It’s Week 1. One of the things I used to tell my receivers when I was coaching is that the ball doesn’t know who the number one, number two or number three receivers are. When you get your chance to make plays, you just have to do that. DeShone Kizer may feel more comfortable throwing to one guy as opposed to another, or the defense may take him away. But when the ball is coming your way, everyone is a number one receiver.
New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints – 1:00 PM ET – CBS
CBS Local Sports: Both of these teams struggled at times during their Week 1 losses. Which of the two teams will find it easier to bounce back on Sunday?
James Lofton: The Patriots weren’t really off that much in their ballgame. But the Saints had a hard time protecting Drew Brees, and that doesn’t go away as quickly as just the other team outscoring you, which is what happened [to the Patriots] against the Kansas City Chiefs.
New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders – 4:00 PM ET – CBS
CBS Local Sports: The Jets are two-touchdown underdogs against the Raiders on Sunday. What does New York have to do in order to keep this game relatively close?
James Lofton: One of the things you always need to do when you’re playing on the road is survive the first quarter, because the fans are against you and the travel has been against you. So if they can survive the first quarter, and keep it relatively close, they could be okay in the game. Todd Bowles is a smart coach. He realizes he doesn’t have the weapons that the Raiders have offensively. So he needs to keep this a low-scoring game and grind it out.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.