Beset by injuries up and down the roster, the Baltimore Ravens (3-7) will send out veteran quarterback Matt Schaub against their NFC North rival Cleveland Browns (2-8) for Week 12’s “Monday Night Football” action at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Despite claiming a last-second victory over the St. Louis Rams last week, the Ravens added to their woes and saw starting quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett each go down with season-ending injuries. All told, Baltimore has sent 16 players to injured reserve this season, including receiver Steve Smith, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, and linebacker Terrell Suggs, and its chances for the postseason have wilted away.
The Browns meanwhile again dealt with controversy surrounding second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel, and they too will start their back-up Josh McCown in hopes of snapping a five-game losing streak.
Schaub, previously with the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders, will start in place of the injured Flacco, who tore his ACL and MCL in last week’s victory and is out for the rest of the season. The 34-year-old Schaub steps in for his first start as a Raven and first since 2013 with Houston.
But Schaub will also miss a key part of the Ravens’ offense. Baltimore lost Forsett to a broken arm in Week 11 and he was sent to injured reserve for the remainder of the year. One season removed from the best of his career, Forsett gained 641 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.
The Ravens are expected to turn to rookie rusher Javorius Allen. The 24-year-old gained 67 yards off 22 attempts against St. Louis and is second on the squad with 249 yards this season.
Their postseason hopes dashed several weeks ago, the Browns originally named Manziel the starter for the final six games of the regular season but videos of the former Heisman Trophy winner partying in Austin, Texas, surfaced last week and he was demoted to third-string behind McCown and fourth-year quarterback Austin Davis.
McCown should give Cleveland some hope of snapping its losing streak. The 36-year-old went 1-6 in his previous seven starts this season, but was completing 65.0 percent of his passes for 271.0 yards per game and gathered 11 touchdowns to four interceptions.
McCown will have top targets like leading receiver Travis Benjamin and tight end Gary Barnidge. But like Baltimore, the Browns are also dealing with injuries to their offense with receivers Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins both out with concussions, while reserve guard Joel Bitonio (ankle) is listed as questionable.
Cleveland’s defense will also miss several key contributors. Defensive back Joe Haden (concussion) and defensive end Randy Starks (knee) are both out, and rookie linebacker Nate Orchard (groin) is questionable.
Baltimore has listed receiver Marlon Brown (back), tight end Chase Ford (shoulder), tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder), and guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) as doubtful, while cornerback Shareece Wright (back) is questionable.
The injuries to the offensive line could be most troubling to Schaub. In their previous 10 games, the Ravens had allowed Flacco to be sacked just 16 times, the third-lowest total in the NFL.
Betting Odds: Cleveland -3.5
Over/Under: 41 points
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN