Titans At Ravens

PSINet Stadium, 1 p.m., chs. 13, 9

October 07, 2001


Ravens rushing vs. Titans run defense -- TITANS

The Ravens' offensive line just wore down the Broncos up front last week, churning out a season-best 112 yards on the ground. But the Ravens still are averaging 2.7 yards a carry, which is second-to-last in the league. Tennessee's run defense, which ranks 15th in the NFL, begins with underrated DTs Jason Fisk and Josh Evans and always includes SS Blaine Bishop creeping in as the eighth man in the box. The Titans, though, seemed vulnerable against the run in their last game, when Jaguars RB Stacey Mack broke out for 80 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown.

Ravens passing vs. Titans pass defense -- RAVENS

Ranked third in the league in passing, the Ravens have produced 78 percent of their offense through the air. Ravens QB Elvis Grbac leads the AFC in third-down passing, completing 20 of 31 passes for a 105.3 rating. The Ravens are quite aware of the struggling Titans secondary that will likely line up former Ravens CB DeRon Jenkins against flanker Travis Taylor as well as start rookie FS Joe Walker. Tennessee has a formidable pass rush on paper, but DEs Jevon Kearse and Kevin Carter have underachieved so far with a combined two sacks.

Titans rushing vs. Ravens run defense -- RAVENS

Can Titans RB Eddie George elude Ravens LB Ray Lewis? While Lewis may not be entirely healthy with elbow tendinitis, he raises his game when encountering his close friend George. The Ravens have held George to 63 or fewer yards in five of their past six meetings, with Lewis beating him up on some early collisions. No running back has rushed for more than 57 yards against the Ravens this season. The Titans probably will juggle their offensive line, shifting G Bruce Matthews over to center and installing Zach Piller at left guard.

Titans passing vs. Ravens pass defense -- RAVENS

Tennessee QB Steve McNair is still hurting from a shoulder injury, which probably will force him to become more of a pocket passer. The Ravens, who made Denver's Brian Griese flinch constantly last week, will be zeroing in on a wounded McNair. The Ravens have eight sacks and four interceptions this season, limiting teams to a microscopic 4.7 yards a passing attempt.

Special teams -- EVEN

Titans return specialist Derrick Mason, who is questionable with ankle and shoulder injuries, needs to make an impact to jump-start Tennessee against the Ravens' dominant defense. The Ravens are allowing 29.1 yards a kickoff return -- fourth worst in the league -- but only 4.4 yards on punt return. The Titans, though, are equally bad at covering kickoffs, giving up 29.5 yards a return. Ravens P Kyle Richardson is coming off one the best games of his career in averaging 48.4 yards in Denver.

Intangibles -- TITANS

Tennessee, which relies heavily on schemes and disguising tendencies, has had two weeks to prepare with a bye week. Plus, the Titans desperately have to win to avoid dropping to 0-3 and putting their playoff chances in jeopardy. In October, the Ravens are historically awful with a 5-14 all-time record, including 1-8 at home.

Prediction -- RAVENS

The winless Titans are desperate, but the Ravens are licking their chops. The Ravens know that a victory would virtually eliminate their chief AFC Central rival. Ravens, 16-13. -- Jamison Hensley

Inside slant

Ravens scout George Kokinis sizes up the Titans:

Strength:Defensive line. This group is sack-oriented, recording 31.5 of the team's 55 sacks last year. They're all active with their hands. If an offensive lineman gets off balance or lunges at them, the Titans' defensive linemen are going to get past him.

Weakness: Lack of offen- sive rhythm. The Titans string plays together and move the football, but they always seem to shoot themselves in the foot with a mental mistake or penalty. They are averaging nine penalties a game, tied for third most in the NFL.

Matchup to watch: Ravens weak-side LB Jamie Sharper (24 tackles, three passes broken up) vs. Titans TE Erron Kinney (seven catches, 88 yards). Kinney, a third-round pick in 2000, has size, speed and a good tutor in Frank Wycheck. He's gotten a lot more natural catching the ball and gives Tennessee more balance than just going to Wycheck.


Ravens offense

WR 87 Qadry Ismail

LT 75 Jonathan Ogden

LG 64 Edwin Mulitalo

C 62 Mike Flynn

RG 66 Bennie Anderson

RT 78 Sammy Williams

TE 82 Shannon Sharpe

WR 89 Travis Taylor

QB 18 Elvis Grbac

RB 29 Terry Allen

FB 32 Sam Gash

Titans defense

LE 93 Kevin Carter

LT 78 John Thornton

RT 97 Jason Fisk

RE 90 Jevon Kearse

LLB 51 Greg Favors

MLB 56 Randall Godfrey

RLB 55 Eddie Robinson

LCB 25 DeRon Jenkins

RCB 21 Samari Rolle

SS 23 Blaine Bishop

FS 29 Joe Walker

Titans offense

WR 85 Derrick Mason

LT 72 Brad Hopkins

LG 69 Zach Piller

C 74 Bruce Matthews

RG 75 Benji Olson

RT 71 Fred Miller

TE 89 Frank Wycheck

WR 87 Kevin Dyson

QB 9 Steve McNair

RB 27 Eddie George

TE 88 Erron Kinney

Ravens defense

LE 90 Rob Burnett

LT 95 Sam Adams

RT 98 Tony Siragusa

RE 99 Michael McCrary

LLB 58 Peter Boulware

MLB 52 Ray Lewis

RLB 55 Jamie Sharper

LCB 22 Duane Starks

RCB 21 Chris McAlister

SS 45 Corey Harris

FS 26 Rod Woodson


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

Line:Ravens by 3 1/2 .

Vs. spread:Titans 0-2; Ravens 2-1.

Series: Titans lead 6-4.

Last meeting:Ravens won, 24-23, on Nov. 12, 2000, at Tennessee.

Quick hits:Five of the past seven meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer. ... Titans DE Jevon Kearse has a sack in three straight games vs. Ravens. ... Ravens S Rod Woodson has seven interceptions vs. Oilers/Titans.


TITANS: Questionable: CB Andre Dyson (toe); WR Kevin Dyson (toe); WR Derrick Mason (ankle/shoulder); WR Justin McCareins (toe); QB Steve McNair (shoulder); DT John Thornton (shoulder).

RAVENS: Out: T Leon Searcy (arm). Questionable: FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo (knee); DE Rob Burnett (knee); TE Todd Heap (ankle); MLB Ray Lewis (arm); DE Michael McCrary (knee).

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