Scouting report

December 06, 1998|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Oilers run defense

The Ravens have to establish a rushing attack to win this game or keep it close. They have been successful the past two weeks, but that was against the Bengals and the Colts. The Oilers have a formidable front line and like to crowd the line of scrimmage. Guards Jeff Blackshear and James Atkins and center Wally Williams must have big games handling the blitz.

Edge -- Oilers

Ravens pass offense vs. Oilers pass defense

The Oilers rank No. 24 against the pass, allowing 224.7 yards a game, and part of the problem is that they get caught blitzing so much out of their "46" defense. The key is reading safety Marcus Robertson, and Jim Harbaugh should have no problem with that. The Ravens will be without starting receivers Michael Jackson and Jermaine Lewis, but Floyd Turner and James Roe can have solid performances against cornerbacks Denard Walker and Darryll Lewis.

bTC Edge -- EVEN

Oilers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Oilers have a veteran offensive line led by left guard Bruce Matthews and center Mark Stepnoski, and Eddie George's cutback style will give the Ravens some problems. Even though Tennessee has the No. 6 running game in the league, the Ravens should come up big this week, looking to erase the memory of last week's effort against Marshall Faulk. Ends Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary have to be disciplined and hold containment.

Edge -- Ravens

Oilers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Oilers aren't a pass-happy bunch, but the Ravens have had their share of secondary problems. Can anyone stop the out-and-up and hitch-and-go routes? The Oilers have capable receivers, especially Willie Davis and Chris Sanders, but it's H-back Frank Wycheck who could be a Ravens killer again today.

Edge -- Oilers

Special teams

Kickers Al Del Greco and Matt Stover are each having better-than-average seasons. Oilers punter Craig Hentrich is having a better season than the Ravens' Kyle Richardson, but the Ravens have better return and cover units. The Ravens, though, lose a big edge with Jermaine Lewis not able to return punts.

Edge -- Ravens

Key matchup

Oilers quarterback Steve McNair vs. McCrary, Burnett and outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper. When the teams met Oct. 11, the Ravens had one major breakdown against McNair, and it cost them a 40-yard touchdown run. The Ravens have to keep pressure on McNair and keep him in the pocket.

Edge -- Oilers

Intangibles

The 12-8 loss to the Oilers was the turning point in the Ravens' season, and they also would like to put together the first three-game winning streak since Sept. 21, 1997. Tennessee is in a must-win situation to keep its playoff hopes alive after losing two straight.

Edge -- Oilers

Prediction

One team is headed upward, the other downward. But the Oilers will rebound, 20-13.

Edge -- Oilers

Keys to a Ravens victory

1. Establish a running game because Oilers have a dominating pass rush.

2. Slow down running back Eddie George, who can cut back just enough to give the Ravens problems.

3. Pressure quarterback Steve McNair and not allow him on the perimeter or outside the pocket.

Pub date 12/6/98

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