Scouting report

December 20, 1998|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Bears run defense

Even with starting tackles Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Brown questionable because of ankle injuries, the Ravens should have success against the Bears, who are allowing 127.2 yards a game on the ground, No. 22 in the league. If both tackles play, the Raven could roll up more than 150 rushing yards. -- EDGE -- RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Bears pass defense

The Bears play better pass defense than run, limiting the opposition to 207.5 yards per game. Cornerbacks Walt Harris and Terry Cousin are solid, but if the Ravens' offensive line gives quarterback Jim Harbaugh time, receivers Jermaine Lewis, Michael Jackson and Floyd Turner should have decent games. But the Ravens have the No. 25 pass offense in the league and the Bears are No. 16 in pass defense. Neither team has a clear advantage. EDGE -- EVEN

Bears run offense vs. Ravens run defense

This is clearly a mismatch in the Ravens' favor, even if defensive tackles James Jones (knee, ankle) and Tony Siragusa (neck) are questionable. The Bears' top running back, Edgar Bennett, has a knee injury and will be a third-down back. James Allen will make his first NFL start in Bennett's place. Defensive ends Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett could pad a lot of stats today. -- EDGE RAVENS

Bears pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

Steve Stenstrom and Jim Miller are Chicago's quarterbacks. Just who are these masked men? Flanker Curtis Conway could give the Ravens problems, but the pass rush should smother the air attack. Keep an eye on cornerbacks Rod Woodson and Duane Starks, who have been inconsistent during the second half of the @season.-- EDGE RAVENS

Special teams

The Ravens have a better punting average than the Bears and are averaging 25.0 yards per kickoff compared to Chicago's 24.0. The Bears do a better job covering kickoffs, but the Ravens cover punts better. Ravens kicker Matt Stover started slow but has been more consistent down the stretch than his Bears counterpart, Jeff Jaeger. -- EDGE RAVENS

Key matchup

Michael McCrary vs. left tackle Andy Heck: If McCrary beats Heck consistently, Chicago will have virtually no passing game. After gaining a Pro Bowl invitation, McCrary still wants to win the league sack title. -- EDGE RAVENS

Intangibles

There is none. This game will be played for pride and jobs next season. -- EDGE EVEN

Prediction

This outcome will ride on which team decides to stop playing the earliest. The Ravens will get a lead and then the Bears will tank it. Ravens win, 17-10. -- EDGE RAVENS

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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