Scouting Report

Ravens Vs. Eagles

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Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, 1 P.m., Ch. 13

October 31, 2004|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. Eagles run defense: This is where the Ravens need to dominate to deliver an upset today. Teams have had success running against the Eagles' smaller defensive line, which has given up 4.9 yards a carry (second worst in the NFL). A power back like Jamal Lewis would wear down Philadelphia, but Lewis is serving the last game of his NFL suspension. The Ravens will rely on the slashing of Chester Taylor, who had five runs of more than 10 yards in his first game as the featured back. The Ravens will miss injured All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (pulled hamstring), who could've single-handedly caved in the left side.

EDGE: RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Eagles pass defense: Replacing Ogden with Ethan Brooks against a blitz-happy Eagles defense (NFL-best 23 sacks) is not a good mix. When Brooks replaced Ogden in the opener, he gave up three sacks. As a unit, the Ravens had one of their worst pass-protection days last Sunday against the Bills. The key for the Ravens is not to get into too many obvious passing situations, especially third-and-longs. The Ravens are the league's third-worst team at converting third downs (30 percent). But who needs a passing game? All three times Kyle Boller has thrown for fewer than 100 yards, the Ravens have won. Tight end Todd Heap (sprained ankle) is expected to miss his fifth straight game.

EDGE: EAGLES

Eagles run offense vs. Ravens run defense: The Eagles are on their third option at running back. At 34, Dorsey Levens replaces injured starting running back Brian Westbrook, who moved up the depth chart when Correll Buckhalter went down in the preseason with a season-ending injury. Levens has gained 86 yards on 20 carries (4.3-yard average) for the 20th-ranked rushing attack in the NFL. The Ravens limited Buffalo to 85 yards rushing, its lowest output of the season. Over the past three games, the Ravens have not allowed a team to average more than 4 yards a carry. Since 1999, the Ravens' defense has permitted just five 100-yard rushers when Ray Lewis is in the lineup.

EDGE: RAVENS

Eagles pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: This is a clash of the teams' biggest strengths. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is building a strong case for league Most Valuable Player, completing 65.7 percent of his throws with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. His favorite option is going deep to receiver Terrell Owens, who is averaging 17.5 yards per catch. Owens has scored eight of Philadelphia's 18 touchdowns. No other receiver has more than 18 receptions. In the past two games, the Ravens' secondary has scored more touchdowns (two) than it has allowed (one). The Ravens have held quarterbacks to 53.7 percent completion efficiency this season, which is second best in the NFL. Terrell Suggs, who has 19 sacks in 22 career games, will go against his most elusive target of the season in McNabb.

EDGE: EVEN

Special teams: This game matches two of the most accurate field-goal kickers in NFL history in the Ravens' Matt Stover (82.3 percent) and the Eagles' David Akers (83 percent). But Akers, who hit a game-winning 50-yarder in overtime last Sunday, has the stronger leg. The Ravens clearly have the more dangerous punt returner in B.J. Sams (14.2 yards), compared to Philadelphia's Reno Mahe (5.7 yards). Ravens kickoff specialist Wade Richey has struggled most of the season.

EDGE: EVEN

Intangibles: The last time the Ravens beat a team with a winning record on the road was Nov. 4, 2001, when they upended the Pittsburgh Steelers, 13-10. The Eagles have won all three of their home games by double-digit margins, an average of 15.7 points. Eight of the Ravens' nine turnovers this season have come on the road. The Ravens have managed just three touchdowns in three away games.

EDGE: EAGLES

Prediction: The Ravens' defense is running at a championship level. Their offense, which will be missing all three of its Pro Bowl players, is running on fumes.

EAGLES, 20-10

GAME FACTS

Matchup

Records: Ravens 4-2, Eagles 6-0.

Line: Eagles by 7 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Ravens 4-2, Eagles 5-1.

Series: Tied 0-0-1

Last meeting: Teams tied, 10-10, on Nov. 16, 1997, at Baltimore.

NFL rankings

Ravens offense: 31st, (rush 4th, pass 32nd).

Ravens defense: 7th, (rush 7th, pass 9th).

Eagles offense: 4th, (rush 20th, pass 2nd).

Eagles defense: 20th, (rush 16th, pass 21st).

Ravens injuries

Questionable: WR Devard Darling (heel-IR); OT Jonathan Ogden (hamstring).

Doubtful: TE Todd Heap (ankle); RB Ovie Mughelli (hamstring).

Probable: OT Ethan Brooks (thumb); OT Orlando Brown (finger); C Mike Flynn (shoulder); C Joe Maese (groin); RB B.J. Sams (back).

Eagles injuries

Questionable: RB Brian Westbrook (rib).

Probable: LB Dhani Jones (ankle); WR Greg Lewis (quadriceps); G Jermane Mayberry (knee); DE Jerome McDougle (illness); RB Josh Parry (knee); OT Jon Runyan (groin); CB Lito Sheppard (neck); LB Mark Simoneau (foot); CB Dexter Wynn (hamstring).

INSIDE SLANT

George Kokinis, the Ravens' pro personnel director, sizes up the Eagles:

Strength of offense

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