Scouting report

December 13, 1998|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Vikings run defense Edge

The Ravens have the No. 15 rushing offense in the league compared to the No. 14 run defense for Minnesota. The problem is that the Ravens have four offensive linemen coming off injuries, several of whom might not play. Either way, the Ravens have to get to linebackers Ed McDaniel and Dwayne Rudd, especially Rudd, who may be uncovered on the weak side. --Edge -- Vikings

Ravens pass offense vs. Vikings pass defense

Receivers Floyd Turner and James Roe might be able to get some yardage against cornerbacks Corey Fuller and Jimmy Hitchcock, but the Ravens' offensive brain trust has to do a better job on its schemes. The Vikings allow an average of 223.6 passing yards, but the Ravens, especially with Jonathan Ogden hurt, have no one who can control defensive tackle John Randle. -- EDGE -- Even

Vikings run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Vikings, with the No. 11 rushing attack in the league averaging 120.4 yards, are without injured back Robert Smith. Leroy Hoard isn't as good, but he is effective behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines. The Ravens, however, have a solid run defense and should have no problems shutting down Hoard. EDGE -- Ravens

Vikings pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

No laughing please. The only way the Ravens can slow Minnesota's passing attack is if injured receiver Cris Carter doesn't play. Even then, the Ravens' only hope is to get to quarterback Randall Cunningham, because this team just doesn't have the cornerbacks or safeties who can cover rookie phenom Randy Moss. -- EDGE -- Vikings

Special teams

The Ravens are averaging 22.7 yards per kickoff return, compared to 21.6 for the Vikings, but Minnesota's David Palmer is more likely to return one for a touchdown than the Ravens' Corey Harris. The Ravens also have better punt return and coverage teams. The punters are similar, but Vikings kicker Gary Anderson has been more consistent than Matt Stover. -- EDGE -- Ravens

Key matchup

Moss vs. Ravens cornerback Rod Woodson: The Vikings don't use complicated schemes to free Moss. He runs short routes, hitches, fades and fly patterns. They are moving Moss around more because teams have started to get physical with him, and Woodson still can pound on receivers as well as anyone. But Moss has two things in his favor: He is 4 inches taller, and Cunningham puts the ball where only he can get to it. -- EDGE -- Vikings

Intangibles

Minnesota is fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs and will try to avoid the embarrassment of losing to the Ravens. The Ravens can show that they can play with one of the league's elite teams if they win, and no one likes to get humiliated in their own house. -- EDGE -- Ravens

Prediction

Let's stop kidding ourselves. The Vikings will win by how many they want to win by. Ten, 20, 25, 30. Vikings 30, Ravens 14. -- EDGE -- Vikings

Keys to a Raven victory

1 Mix the short passing offense with the run to control the clock and keep the ball away from the Minnesota offense.

2 Get pressure from their defensive front four because they probably won't blitz as much today.

3 Throw the long ball at times because Minnesota's secondary is suspect.

Pub Date: 12/13/98

hTC

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