Scouting report

September 13, 1998|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Jets run defense

The Ravens' offensive line rebounded with a strong effort against the Steelers last week. The Jets will be less formidable because outside linebacker James Farrior is out with a knee sprain and middle linebacker Pepper Johnson is past his prime. Last year, though, the Jets moved their linebackers close to the line of scrimmage on first and second downs to neutralize the Ravens' speed and power on the offensive line.

Edge -- RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Jets pass defense

If everyone were healthy, this would be a matchup in the Ravens' favor, but quarterback Jim Harbaugh's injury neutralizes their advantage. Look for the Ravens to go after the Jets' small cornerbacks, particularly right cornerback Otis Smith. Watch for Michael Jackson on slant plays. Wide-out Jermaine Lewis could have a big day for the Ravens as well.

Edge -- EVEN

Jets run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Curtis Martin is the type of runner that can give the Ravens fits because of his cutback ability and power to break tackles. But the Ravens' forte is slanting in the gaps and taking away the run, particularly tackles James Jones and Tony Siragusa. Martin had only 58 yards on 22 carries against the 49ers last week.

Edge -- RAVENS

Jets pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Jets have a solid passing attack with receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet. They probably will attack the middle of the Ravens' defense. The Jets will go after right cornerback DeRon Jenkins. If the Ravens can't get a pass rush from ends Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett and outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper, they could be in trouble.

Edge -- EVEN

Special teams

The Jets mishandled two kickoffs last week and have a rookie in Nick Gallery who averaged just 39.7 yards per punt. New York also doesn't have a solid nucleus of special teams players. The fTC Ravens had their own problems with Matt Stover missing three field-goal attempts against Pittsburgh and Harper Le Bel misfiring on three snaps. But the Ravens' return and coverage units are better than the Jets' at this point.

Edge -- RAVENS

Intangibles

The Ravens outplayed and physically manhandled the Steelers last week. But the bottom line is that they lost, and they're eager for a win. New York had similar problems with the 49ers and lost in overtime. It's a game the Jets could have won, too. But this is the home opener for the Jets, and they'll be psyched.

Edge -- JETS

Key matchup

Ravens center Jeff Mitchell and guards Jeff Blackshear and Wally Williams vs. Jets linebackers Mo Lewis, Pepper Johnson, Dwayne Gordon and Bryan Cox. The Ravens have to cut off the Jets' penetration to establish a running game. Brute power won't be enough and the Ravens will have to use some technique and finesse to get the job done.

Edge -- RAVENS

Prediction

Overall, the Ravens have a team superior in talent to the Jets. It's hard to win on the road, but this time they'll get it done. Ravens 24, Jets 21.

Edge -- RAVENS

Keys to a Ravens victory

1. The special teams must play well to gain field position. Kicker Matt Stover has to be efficient because this game likely will be decided by a field goal.

2. This is the Jets' home opener, so the Ravens have to score early and try to take the crowd out of the game.

3. Stop running back Curtis Martin. Glenn Foley has neither the arm strength nor the field moxie to carry an offense.

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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