Scouting report

September 14, 1997|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Giants run defense; EDGE

The Giants are allowing 121.5 yards rushing per game and the Ravens are averaging 109.0. The Giants don't have any legitimate run stoppers up front, and their best defensive lineman is probably left end Michael Strahan. Jessie Armstead is a decent outside linebacker, but no match for the Ravens' offensive line.

Ravens pass offense vs. Giants pass defense

The Giants might have cornerbacks Phillippi Sparks (hepatitis) and Conrad Hamilton (knee) for the first time this season, which makes the secondary stronger, but New York still can't cover the Ravens' receiving duo of Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander. If quarterback Vinny Testaverde limits his turnovers, Alexander and Jackson will have good games.

Giants run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Giants running back Rodney Hampton is out with a knee injury and No. 2 back Tiki Barber is questionable with a shoulder injury. That leaves the Giants with Tyrone Wheatley, who has played only one series this season, against a defense that is ranked nTC

10th in the league against the run.

Giants pass defense vs. Ravens pass defense

With the Giants losing wide receiver Ike Hilliard for six to seven weeks with a sprained neck, this becomes an interesting matchup. The Giants don't have a breakaway receiver and the Ravens don't have a great cover cornerback. There is nothing spectacular about Giants receivers Chris Calloway, Thomas Lewis and Amani Toomer against cornerbacks Antonio Langham, DeRon Jenkins and Donny Brady, so the pass rush turns this matchup in the Ravens' favor.

Special teams; EVEN

Both teams have solid kicking games. The Ravens' Matt Stover is 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts, and Greg Montgomery is averaging 43.4 yards a punt. The Giants counter with Brad Daluiso, who's 1-for-2 on field-goal tries, and punter Brad Maynard, who averages 45.3 yards. Both teams have about the same return averages.

Key matchup

Ravens' defensive line against Giants' offensive line. If the Ravens dominate here, this game could become ugly. The Giants start two inexperienced linemen in center Derek Engler and left tackle Roman Oben, who match up against tackle Tony Siragusa and end Michael McCrary. Giants quarterback Dave Brown has been known to have major meltdowns under pressure.

Intangibles

The Ravens have yet to win on the road since the team moved to Baltimore, and inexperienced teams often have trouble maintaining a level of consistency after winning. Just ask the youthful Giants, who lost to Jacksonville, 40-13, last week after .. upsetting Philadelphia, 31-17, in the opener.

Prediction

The Ravens are feeling confident after beating the Bengals and should win by six points.

Keys to a Ravens victory

1 Put pressure on quarterback Dave Brown. The Giants don't have game-breaking receivers, and Brown's play has been inconsistent over the years.

2 Eliminate offensive turnovers. The Giants have had very little offense, 12 times going three plays and out. The Ravens don't want to give up field position.

3 Keep everything basic. The Ravens have more talent on paper; they just need to play hard and aggressive, not a gambling, wide-open style.

Pub Date: 9/17/97

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