Ravens Vs. Rams

Nfl Week 10

Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, 8:30 P.m., Ch. 24, Espn

November 09, 2003|By JAMISON HENSLEY

SCOUTING REPORT

Ravens run offense vs. Rams run defense -- RAVENS

Jamal Lewis lacked explosiveness last Sunday, when the Jacksonville Jaguars held him to a season-low 68 yards rushing. But the league's leading rusher has not been held under 100 yards in consecutive games this season and could break a couple long ones against an average St. Louis defense. The Rams have allowed 4.6 yards per carry (29th in the league) and could be without three injured players in their starting front seven - tackle Damione Lewis, end Leonard Little and weak-side linebacker Tommy Polley (Dunbar). Expect the Ravens' offensive line to control the line with a more physical attitude after a lackluster effort last week.

Ravens pass offense vs. Rams pass defense -- RAMS

In quarterbacking the league's worst passing attack, Kyle Boller has thrown for fewer than 160 yards in all but one game. The pressure will be on Boller to keep drives alive. Rated the AFC's eighth-best passer on third down, Boller has helped the Ravens convert 12 of their past 32 third-down attempts (37.5 percent). Tight end Todd Heap, who has caught a pass of 25 or more yards in five of his past six games, remains the Ravens' only reliable deep threat. The Rams are young in their secondary, but they rank 13th in pass defense. Their leading pass rusher, Little, might play sparingly in throwing situations.

Rams run offense vs. Ravens run defense --RAVENS

Marshall Faulk, the former NFL Most Valuable Player, returns after missing the past five games with hand and knee injuries. It's uncertain how effective he will be in his first action since Sept. 21. The Ravens are coming off their worst tackling performance in memory in giving up 134 yards rushing to Jacksonville. But they're still ranked 10th in run defense and have allowed only one running back to gain more than 90 yards. The speed of linebacker Ray Lewis should offset the elusiveness of Faulk.

Rams pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense -- RAMS

The key is how well the Ravens can disrupt the timing between quarterback Marc Bulger and his speedy receivers. Ravens pass rushers Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs, who have combined for 8 1/2 sacks this season, go head-to-head against top-notch tackles Orlando Pace and Kyle Turley. After holding the opponent's top target in check for the past four weeks, cornerback Chris McAlister matches up with Torry Holt, the league's leading receiver. Gary Baxter, who shifts from free safety to replace injured cornerback Corey Fuller, will line up against veteran receiver Isaac Bruce, whose 16.1-yard average tops St. Louis.

Special teams -- RAVENS

The Rams are vulnerable here, allowing four touchdowns on special teams this season, including a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in last Sunday's loss to the 49ers. The Ravens have two of the best coverage teams in the NFL and are showing signs of breaking through in the return game. Lamont Brightful, who had kickoff returns of 31 and 58 yards last week, will be the return specialist tonight. The Ravens' Matt Stover and the Rams' Jeff Wilkins are both 17-for-19 on field-goal attempts.

Intangibles -- RAMS

Edward Jones Dome has been a comfort zone for the Rams, who have won 10 straight at home. St. Louis is 16-5 against AFC teams there and hasn't lost to an AFC team at home since Oct. 26, 1997. The Ravens are 2-2 on the road this season, but they haven't experienced a hostile environment like this dome.

Prediction -- RAMS

The Ravens have been living dangerously lately, escaping with wins at home against Denver and Jacksonville. In another game with little margin for error, the Ravens won't be able to pull it off again. Big plays in the Rams' passing game will prove to be the Ravens' undoing. Rams, 24-20.

GAME FACTS

Records

Ravens 5-3 Rams 5-3

Line

Rams by 7

Vs. spread

Ravens 5-3 Rams 5-2-1

Series

Tied 1-1

Last meeting

Rams won, 27-10, on Sept. 12, 1999, in St. Louis.

NFL rankings

Ravens offense: Overall (23), rush (1), pass (32).

Ravens defense: Overall (6), rush (10), pass (9).

Rams offense: Overall (1), rush (30), pass (1).

Rams defense: Overall (10), rush (14), pass (13).

Quick hits

The Ravens' Todd Heap is the only AFC tight end to lead his team in receptions (29).

Six of Ravens WR Travis Taylor's past seven touchdown catches have been on the road.

The Rams are seeking their 11th consecutive home victory.

Rams QB Marc Bulger is 11-3 as a starter.

Injuries

RAVENS: Questionable: CB Corey Fuller (leg); WR Frank Sanders (back); S Chad Williams (back). Probable: RB Jamal Lewis (shoulder); RB Chester Taylor (leg); WR Travis Taylor (leg); P Dave Zastudil (leg).

RAMS: Doubtful: DT Damione Lewis (ankle); DE Leonard Little (chest). Questionable: RB Lamar Gordon (ankle); LB Tommy Polley (elbow); CB James Whitley (foot). Probable: S Adam Archuleta (ankle); TE Cameron Cleeland (concussion); S Richard Coady (groin); RB Marshall Faulk (knee); S Jason Sehorn (foot).

STARTING LINEUP

Ravens offense

TE 82 Terry Jones

LT 75 Jonathan Ogden

LG 64 Edwin Mulitalo

C 62 Mike Flynn

RG 66 Bennie Anderson

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