Scouting Report

October 18, 1998|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Steelers run defense

The Ravens were successful running against the Steelers in the first game until they got behind, but they haven't sustained any consistency in that area all year. Center Jeff Mitchell held his own against nose tackle Joel Steed in the first game, but Steed might dominate this time. The key is for the Ravens guards Jeff Blackshear and Wally Williams to get to inside linebackers Levon Kirkland and Donta Jones. The Ravens also have to be able to run on the weak side because the Steelers slant hard to the strong side.

EDGE- Steelers

Ravens offense vs. Steelers pass defense

The Ravens have an edge in talent here, but it depends on how much coach Ted Marchibroda wants to throw. Cornerbacks Carnell Lake and Dewayne Washington are no match for receivers Michael Jackson and Jermaine Lewis, but Marchibroda didn't go after the duo in the first game, and Jackson (thigh) may not play.

EVEN

Steelers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens should be able to stop the Steelers, especially if middle linebacker Ray Lewis is healthy. The Ravens will keep seven to eight players in the box on first downs, and if tackles James Jones and Tony Siragusa can get penetration, this will keep the Steelers' running backs from squaring their shoulders and getting a lot of yards. Strong-side linebacker Peter Boulware has to play well against tight end Mark Bruener, who holds better than most players in the league.

EDGE- Ravens

Steelers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Steelers' pass offense is a joke. Quarterback Kordell Stewart is inconsistent and folds under pressure. Defensive end Michael McCrary and Boulware should be able to get pressure on Stewart through tackles Justin Strzelczyk and Jamain Stephens. Flanker Charles Johnson could have a big day, but cornerbacks Rod Woodson and DeRon Jenkins should be able to control receivers Courtney Hawkins and Will Blackwell.

EDGE- Ravens

Special teams

The Steelers' Josh Miller is averaging 47.6 yards per punt, nearly 3 yards better than Kyle Richardson. Ravens kicker Matt Stover is performing well, having hit on seven of 11 field-goal attempts, but Pittsburgh's Norm Johnson (7-for-9) is efficient, too. Jermaine Lewis gives the Ravens an edge in punt returns, but the Steelers have a better kickoff return average.

EDGE- Steelers

Key matchup

Ravens quarterback Eric Zeier vs. the Steelers' blitz: Zeier has turned in some of his worst games against the Steelers. Tennessee blitzed a lot last week, and it gave Zeier problems. There is little doubt that the Steelers will blitz more than the Oilers did.

EDGE- Steelers

Intangibles

The Ravens are desperate for a win to climb back into the playoff race, but the Browns/Ravens haven't won at Pittsburgh since a 51-0 shutout in 1989. The Steelers are coming off a 25-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

EDGE- Steelers

Prediction

This might get ugly. Steelers by 7, 19-12.

EDGE- Steelers

! Pub date 10/18/98

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