Scouting report

September 12, 1999|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Rams run defense

The Rams' defense is much like the Ravens' in that it swarms and runs extremely well. But the Rams only average 276 pounds up front, so the Ravens should be able to pound inside behind guards Jeff Blackshear and Everett Lindsay and center Jeff Mitchell over defensive tackles Ray Agnew and D'Marco Farr. The Ravens' Priest Holmes could gain some yardage by cutting back more than usual. - EDGE RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Rams pass defense

Ravens receivers have come a long way since the beginning of training camp, when they were dropping everything. The Rams have three solid players in the secondary, particularly left cornerback Todd Lyght. But the Ravens may be able to get some plays off right cornerback Dexter McCleon, and look for the Ravens to attack strong safety Billy Jenkins with long passes over the middle to tight end Aaron Pierce. The Ravens want to exploit that matchup. - EDGE EVEN

Rams run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Rams have Marshall Faulk at running back, which gives them a legitimate scoring weapon from any point on the field. The Rams, though, have only two strong linemen in left tackle Orlando Pace and right guard Adam Timmerman. The Ravens have strong tackles and should be able to penetrate to stop Faulk before he gets going. Right tackles Tony Siragusa and Martin Chase, as well as left ends Rob Burnett and Fernando Smith, could have big games for the Ravens. - EDGE RAVENS

Rams pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Rams have explosive receivers in Isaac Bruce and rookie Torry Holt, a player the Ravens rated high on their draft board. Ricky Proehl is also effective in the slot. Look for the Rams to try to match up Bruce with rookie Chris McAlister at the right cornerback position in nickel and dime situations. The Ravens will need a strong pass rush (blitzes) to get to quarterback Kurt Warner and a lot of deep support from their safeties. If they don't get it, this could be a long afternoon. - EDGE RAMS

Special teams

This could be the area in which the game is won, and neither team was overly impressive during preseason. The Rams have an above-average kicker in Jeff Wilkins and an average punter in Rick Tuten. The Ravens have a strong kicking game with kicker Matt Stover and punter Kyle Richardson. Neither team has shown strong coverage units, and both have excellent punt returners in Az-Zahir Hakim of the Rams and Jermaine Lewis of the Ravens. - EDGE RAVENS

Intangibles

The Ravens are beginning a new era with coach Brian Billick and he seems to have boosted the players' confidence. The Ravens are eager to see how their offense clicks and if the defense can indeed be an elite unit. But this is the season opener, and as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" said, "There's no place like home." - EDGE RAMS

Prediction

The Rams have too many internal problems, and this is a great opportunity for the Ravens to steal a game on the road. Ravens, 19-15. - EDGE RAVENS

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