Scouting report

November 23, 1997|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Cardinals run defense

The Ravens' running game has responded well in the past couple of weeks, and the offensive line has been able to knock people off the ball. But rookie Jay Graham has to prove he can play on the NFL level every week, and the Cardinals could be tough if left tackle Eric Swann plays despite a hamstring injury.

Edge -- RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Cardinals pass defense

In the beginning of the season, the Ravens might have had an edge, but not now. There seems to be timing and communication problems between the receivers and quarterback. Arizona is allowing 204.9 passing yards a game, but rookie cornerback Tom Knight gets better every week and left cornerback Aeneas Williams is one of the best in the league.

Edge -- EVEN

Cardinals run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Cardinals have the worst running game in the league, averaging only 82.0 yards a game. Why? Because they don't give the ball to fullback Larry Centers enough. The Ravens' defensive line has played well lately and shouldn't have many problems with the Cardinals.

Edge -- RAVENS

Cardinals pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Ravens' pass defense has improved in recent weeks, but the team is still allowing 231.9 yards a game. Arizona receivers Frank Sanders (6 feet 2) and Rob Moore (6-3) are big targets and both rank in the top five in the NFC in receptions.

Edge -- CARDINALS

Key matchup

Ravens defensive ends and outside linebackers vs. Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer. There is little doubt that the Ravens will be able to pressure Plummer, a rookie, because Arizona has allowed 54 sacks this season. But Plummer makes big plays out of broken plays with his scrambling ability. But the Ravens have two guys on the perimeter, outside linebacker Peter Boulware and end Michael McCrary, who run extremely well and possibly can contain Plummer.

Edge -- RAVENS

Special teams

Neither team has much of an advantage as far as coverage teams, and the punters are similar in talent, but Ravens kicker Matt Stover gets the nod over counterpart Joe Nedney.

Edge -- EVEN

Intangibles

Neither team has serious playoff hopes, but the Ravens have been building for this time of year with a high number of young players on the team. Also, quarterback Vinny Testaverde has to break out of his slump some day. Maybe today is the day.

Edge -- RAVENS

Prediction

The Ravens have numerous advantages, but they usually make every game close. Ravens by a field goal.

Edge -- RAVENS

Keys to a Ravens victory

1. Contain Cardinals rookie quarterback Jake Plummer to stop him from scrambling and making big plays.

2. Run the ball with Jay Graham or Bam Morris because the passing game has been so shaky lately.

3. Cut down on turnovers, which have hurt the team in recent weeks.

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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