Bengals At Ravens

Scouting report

September 24, 2000|By Ken Murray

RAVENS -- Ravens rushing vs. Bengals run defense

The Ravens switched to rookie RB Jamal Lewis this week after he broke four plays of 10 or more yards in Miami. He should move the pile on the goal line and help in the red zone. Priest Holmes can still deliver some big plays as the changeup back. The Bengals rank ninth against the run, giving up 94.5 yards a game and 3.0 a carry, with Tom Barndt and Oliver Gibson at the tackles. They've also got undrafted rookie Armegis Spearman at MLB in place of injured Brian Simmons.

Ravens passing vs. Bengals pass defense

QB Tony Banks has struggled on third down, completing just 45.2 percent of his throws. He's hitting 58.3 percent overall. With WR Qadry Ismail (knee) out the past two games, Banks has missed his go-to guy. Artrell Hawkins and Tom Carter, Cincinnati's corners, may be more accommodating than Miami's. The Bengals use more man-to-man coverage than the Ravens have seen so far, which could open up the outside for Banks. The Ravens had only four completions to their wide-outs last week, and 15 to backs or tight ends.

RAVENS -- Bengals rushing vs. Ravens run defense

The offensive line represents the Bengals' biggest problem after two games. It hasn't blocked for QB Akili Smith (12 sacks) or RB Corey Dillon (2.5 average carry) yet. Dillon got just 1.9 a carry in a 13-0 loss to Jacksonville. The Ravens, who gave up 106 rushing yards to the Dolphins last week, are allowing 2.5 per carry, tops in the NFL.

RAVENS -- Bengals passing vs. Ravens pass defense

Smith is off to a rough start, completing just 39.3 percent with one TD and four interceptions. Minus injured WR Darnay Scott, the Bengals are starting two rookies, Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans. Warrick has been inconsistent with eight catches and five drops. The Ravens rank 26th against the pass and have surrendered four TD passes.

RAVENS -- Special teams

The Bengals' Neil Rackers is 0-for-3 in field goals, and punter Daniel Pope has the team's longest run from scrimmage. That says a lot. The Ravens' Matt Stover missed his first field goal in 23 tries in the Miami soup, but he always kicks well against Cincinnati. Jermaine Lewis hasn't had a chance to return a punt the past two weeks. The Ravens are allowing an average drive start of 29.5 yards - that's too much - and Cincinnati's Tremain Mack is averaging 25.8 on kickoff returns.

RAVENS -- Intangibles

The clock is running on Bengals coach Bruce Coslet, who is still trying to turn the team around in his fifth season in Cincinnati. He may not get much more time to do it. The Ravens were embarrassed by their poor showing in Miami, and are facing three straight road games next. The Ravens have won four in a row over the Bengals.

RAVENS -- Prediction

The Bengals have too much talent to be playing as poorly as they've played. One week, they'll break out big and beat somebody. But it won't be this week. The Ravens should stunt Smith's growth, 24-7.

RAVENS -- Pivotal factors

Go deep: Ravens QB Tony Banks has just two completions longer than 30 yards, and 36 completions under 10 yards. He should be able to go deep in the passing game today.

Spring Jamal: The starting RB job belongs to Jamal Lewis now, and he may remind the Bengals of their own Corey Dillon. Lewis is a big-play back who can make plays in the passing game, too.

Meet at the QB: The Ravens could tee off on a struggling Cincinnati offensive line. Akili Smith has already been sacked 12 times. Look for DE Michael McCrary to have a big game against LT Rod Jones.

The breakdown

Records: Bengals 0-2; Ravens 2-1.

Line: Ravens by 11 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Bengals 1-1; Ravens 1-1.

Series: Ravens lead 5-3.

Last meeting: Ravens won, 22-0, on Dec. 26, 1999, at PSINet Stadium.

Quick hits: Since 1998, Bengals RB Corey Dillon has nine 100-yard rushing games, six vs. AFC Central foes. ... Bengals WR Warrick tops all rookies with an average of 19.4 yards a catch. ... Ravens are seeking their fourth consecutive home win vs. an AFC Central team. ... Ravens RB Priest Holmes has 459 yards rushing and three TDs in five games vs. the Bengals. ... Ravens S Rod Woodson has nine career interceptions, two returned for TDs, vs. the Bengals, his most against any team.

Injuries

BENGALS: Out-RB Michael Basnight (wrist); DE Vaughn Booker (head); C Rich Braham (knee); LB Brian Simmons (knee). Questionable-RB Clif Groce (adomen). Probable-T Rod Jones (shoulder); WR Craig Yeast (calf).

RAVENS: Doubtful-QB Trent Dilfer (knee). Questionable-WR Qadry Ismail (knee); TE John Jones (knee). Probable-G Mike Flynn (knee).

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