Scouting report

September 20, 1998|By Mike Preston

Jaguars run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Jaguars are tied for the fifth-best running offense in the league and have two top tackles in Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy. The Ravens have the fifth-best run defense and should get pressure up the middle with tackles James Jones and Tony Siragusa, enough to make James Stewart bounce outside.

Edge -- RAVENS

Jaguars pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Jaguars can neutralize the Ravens' pass defense because quarterback Mark Brunell often takes a three- to five-step drop. Receivers Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith run a lot of timing patterns, which will give cornerbacks DeRon Jenkins and Rod Woodson fits. The Ravens cannot afford to give up big passing plays.

Edge -- JAGUARS

Ravens run offense vs. Jaguars run defense

The Jaguars have struggled against the run, allowing 121.5 yards per game, and have three starting linemen out with injuries. The Ravens have yet to establish the run, but tackles Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Brown and guards Jeff Blackshear and Wally Williams might be able to give the backs some room to run today.

Edge -- EVEN

Ravens pass offense vs. Jaguars pass defense

This all depends on whether Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda opens up his offense and Eric Zeier comes in again in relief of Jim Harbaugh. Receivers Michael Jackson and Jermaine Lewis and tight end Eric Green have too much talent for Jacksonville, especially cornerbacks Dave Thomas and Aaron Beasley. Zeier throws the long ball well; the rest is up to Marchibroda.

Edge -- RAVENS

Key matchup

Ravens ends Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett and outside linebacker Peter Boulware against Brunell: Brunell is the X-factor in the Jaguars' offense. His scrambling and big-play abilities give Jacksonville an added dimension. McCrary, Burnett and Boulware have to contain Brunell and keep him in the pocket.

Edge -- EVEN

Special teams

Ravens kicker Matt Stover is 3-for-7 on field-goal attempts and counterpart Mike Hollis is 1-for-3. But in the clutch, take Hollis. The Ravens' Jermaine Lewis is averaging 23.2 yards per punt return, compared to 26.3 for Reggie Barlow.

Edge -- JAGUARS

Intangibles

The Jaguars have won 15 of their past 17 games at Alltel Stadium and have not lost to the Ravens in four meetings. A win against Jacksonville on the road might put the Ravens over the proverbial hump and start to truly turn this franchise around.

Edge -- RAVENS

Prediction

Jacksonville played a very physical game in a 21-16 win against Kansas City last week. The Jaguars have owned the Ravens dating to the franchise's days in Cleveland. But the Ravens have something to prove and will sneak up on the Jaguars today, as long as they limit the big plays from McCardell, Smith and Brunell. The Ravens win a squeaker, 20-17.

Edge -- RAVENS

Keys to a Ravens victory

1. Control the Jaguars' wide receivers. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell have had big games against the Ravens the past two years.

2. Throw the ball downfield more. Jacksonville's cornerbacks, Aaron Beasley and Dave Thomas, are suspect.

3. The defense must apply pressure up the middle, attacking former Ravens center Quentin Neujahr.

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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