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For the second time in three weeks, the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns will square off with plenty at stake in the AFC North and the playoff race. Baltimore is coming off a hard-fought battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers to fall out of the top seed in the conference -- even though the Ravens retained the division lead. 

The Browns are coming off the bye week and will play their second consecutive game against the Ravens. Cleveland fell to Baltimore 16-10 two weeks ago to drop back to .500 and two games out of the AFC North lead. The Browns are still just one game out of the final playoff spot in the conference, though they are 11th in the conference standings. Cleveland needs a win in the rematch to keep its AFC North title hopes alive, and potentially its playoff chances. 

Will the Browns rebound against the Ravens? Can Baltimore retain its AFC North lead? Here's a preview of Sunday's AFC North showdown: 

How to watch

Date: Sunday, Dec. 12 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland, Ohio)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Browns -2.5, O/U 43

Key matchups

Baltimore's run defense vs. Cleveland's run offense

In the first matchup with the Browns, Cleveland gained just 40 yards rushing -- the fewest in a game in the Kevin Stefanski era. Their 2.4 yards per carry was also the Browns' lowest total in a game this year. 

The Browns rushed to the right on 40% of their runs (fourth-highest rate in NFL) and averaged 5.1 yards per rush to the right (fifth-most in the NFL) prior to the Week 12 meeting. Cleveland ran to the right on 33% of their 17 rushes against Baltimore and averaged only 1.2 yards per rush to the right, their lowest total this year. This was with a healthy Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt

It didn't help the Browns that the Ravens rush defense has been dominant all year. Baltimore allows just 84.3 rushing yards per game, the lowest average in the league. The Ravens also allow just 4.0 yards per carry, fifth-lowest in the NFL. 

Lamar Jackson vs. Cover-3 and Cover-4

Jackson threw four interceptions against the Browns, a career-high -- and what may be a microcosm of his struggles. The Browns defense played Cover-3 on 47% of the defensive snaps in the Week 12 loss and Cover-4 on 31% of the defensive snaps. Cleveland lines up in Cover-3 on 43% of defensive snaps and Cover-4 on 25% of defensive snaps, the five-highest and highest rates in the NFL -- which Jackson is likely to see again come Sunday. Of Jackson's 13 interceptions, eight are against Cover-3 and Cover-4. 

Jackson will still get Cover-0, but not as frequent this week. 

Prediction

Latest Odds: Baltimore Ravens +3

It wouldn't be surprising to see another defensive battle between these teams, with both quarterbacks needing one big play to make the difference. The Browns need Nick Chubb to get going, as he has averaged 5.8 yards per rush (most among running backs with 100-plus carries) and 4.3 yards post contact per rush (most among qualified running backs). Chubb had just 1.8 yards post contact per rush, his lowest of the year, so look for Cleveland to get him going early.

Cleveland needs this game, but so does Baltimore. Jackson makes the one play that gives the Ravens a close win.

Ravens 19, Cleveland 17