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Cleveland Browns | Watson vs. Jackson is Deshaun’s chance to prove he is elite, too | Jeff Schudel

The game Nov. 12 between the Browns and Ravens in Baltimore, or, more specifically the head-to-head match between Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson, has been more than two years in the making.

Jackson has proven to be an elite quarterback. He was the unanimous choice as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2019 when he led the Ravens to a 14-2 record while throwing 36 touchdown passes and just six interceptions in his second year in the league. He completed 66.1 percent of his passes (265 of 401) for 3,127 yards and also led the team with 1,207 rushing yards. He scored seven rushing touchdowns.

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Jackson has completed 71.5 percent of his passes this season (181 of 253) with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He has rushed for 440 yards and five touchdowns.

The Ravens are 7-2. The Browns are 5-3. The fact both teams are playing well adds to the spice of Watson and Jackson matching their right arms and their legs.

“I don’t play against Lamar,” Watson said. “I play against the Ravens’ defense. So, I can’t focus on what Lamar’s doing on the opposite side and trying to do that.

“I have to focus on attacking the defense because if I get worried about another quarterback, then I’m not going to play well against the defense.”

Of course, Jackson won’t be in the Ravens’ secondary when Watson throws the ball. But when the Browns traded six draft picks to the Texans to acquire Watson in March 2022 and then gave him a five-year, $230 million contract, it was to win matchups like this one. It wasn’t to carve up the pathetic Arizona Cardinals defense like Watson did last week.

Watson completed 19 of 30 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals. He missed the four prior games (he did play part of the first quarter vs. the Colts on Oct. 22) with a shoulder injury. Prior to the injury he completed 27 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Watson played well in each of his last two complete games, but neither the Titans nor the Cardinals have anything close to the elite defense the Ravens boast.

Reporters in Baltimore interviewed Jackson on Nov. 8, the same day media covering the Browns spoke with Watson. For what it’s worth, Jackson was asked 17 questions and not one was about Watson. In fact, only one was about the Browns. Jackson was asked whether he expects the Browns defense to play better than it did when the Ravens beat the Browns, 28-3, in Cleveland on Oct. 1.

“I can’t call it,” he said. “We’re just going in there and just trying to focus on getting a ‘dub.’ I don’t know how (the Browns) are going to come out and play us, but I believe every team is going to try their best to beat you. That’s part of our job. That’s part of the game.”

Watson was asked 19 questions in his news conference. Two were about Jackson and three others were about the Ravens’ defense.

Watson was suspended by the NFL for the first 11 games of 2022 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy because more than two dozen massage therapists accused him of sexual misconduct while he was playing for the Texans. The game against the Ravens on Dec. 17 last year was his third game in a Browns uniform. He completed 18 of 28 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown in a game the Browns won, 13-3.

Jackson did not play in the December game last year because of a knee injury. Watson missed the Oct. 1 game vs. Baltimore this year because of his shoulder injury.

Watson faced the Ravens twice while with the Texans — once in 2020 in the second game of the season when Houston started 0-4 and finished 4-12, and once in 2019 when the Ravens rolled, 41-7. The Texans were 10-6 in 2019.

The Nov. 12 showdown with Jackson is a chance for Watson to prove the Browns made a wise investment when they mortgaged their future for him.

I didn’t know that

… until I read my Snapple bottle cap

Astronauts cannot burp in space because there is no gravity to separate solids and liquids from the gasses that get forced back up the esophagus, resulting in a burp. … A group of unicorns is called a blessing. … Mercury and Venus are the only planets in our solar system with no moons. … Very small raindrops can take seven minutes to hit land. … A ton of recycled paper saves about 17 trees. … Penguins at one time could fly.

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