Scouting report

September 26, 1999|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Browns run defense

The Ravens are tied for the 18th-ranked running game in the league, while Cleveland's rush defense is next-to-last at No. 30. Defensive tackles Jerry Ball and John Jurkovic were supposed to anchor the unit, but so far they have underachieved. Ravens guards Jeff Blackshear and Everett Lindsay should have big games, and center Jeff Mitchell has the potential to dominate rookie middle linebacker Wali Rainer. - EDGE RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Browns pass defense

When Tim McTyer and Antonio Langham are your starting safety and cornerback, that means trouble. When they're out because of injuries, that means this could be a long day. The Ravens don't have any great receivers, but they won't need any, and Jermaine Lewis, Justin Armour and Qadry Ismail could be the Three Amigos today. If Cleveland can pressure quarterback Stoney Case, that might make it a little more interesting. The Browns are ranked No. 27 in pass defense, allowing 278.5 yards a game. - EDGE RAVENS

Browns run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Running back Terry Kirby rushed 10 times for 40 yards last week against the Titans, and that was an improvement for Cleveland's running game compared with Week 1. The offensive line has been a disappointment except for center Dave Wohlabaugh. The Ravens' tackles should get a lot of penetration against guards Jim Pyne and Steve Rehberg. The Browns could be in a lot of third-and-long situations. - EDGE RAVENS

Browns pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

Cleveland quarterback Tim Couch has the potential to be a star in this league, but he isn't getting much protection. The Browns paid big money for offensive tackles Lomas Brown and Orlando Brown, but Lomas Brown is past his peak and Orlando Brown peaked once he signed that big free-agent contract. Look for the Ravens, especially end Michael McCrary and outside linebacker Peter Boulware, to get pressure on Couch. Even if they don't, the Browns don't have a receiver who can do much damage. - EDGE RAVENS

Special teams

The Browns don't have any game-breakers on these units, either, but the Ravens have a tendency to have breakdowns at key moments. Both punters have performed well, and the Ravens' Matt Stover has been consistent on field-goal attempts from 30 to 40 yards. Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson has converted on his only field-goal try but really hasn't been tested. If the Browns punt to Jermaine Lewis, it would be a major mistake. - EDGE RAVENS

Intangibles

Both teams are looking for a win, but the Ravens have more incentive. They are at home, and losing to an expansion team would be a major embarrassment. The pressure is greater on the Ravens to win. - EDGE RAVENS

Prediction

It's not who will win, but by how much? Ravens, 24-10. - EDGE RAVENS

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