Scouting Report

NFL Preview

Ravens vs. Titans

The Coliseum, Nashville, Tenn., 1 PM, Ch. 13

September 18, 2005

Ravens run offense vs. Titans run defense: To say the Titans are susceptible against the run would be an understatement. Tennessee gave up 206 yards rushing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener, including 161 by third-string running back Willie Parker. Tennessee's front seven was so horrid that the team's leading tacklers were both safeties. The Ravens need to make more of an effort to establish the run early. After being limited in the season opener, Jamal Lewis is ready to handle a full workload. Left guard Edwin Mulitalo has to find a way to budge defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the Titans' best run stuffer. Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck, who is questionable with a calf injury, insists that he will play.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens pass offense vs. Titans pass defense: Anthony Wright will make his first start in 20 months, replacing the injured Kyle Boller. If the Titans drop a safety into the box, the Ravens have to capitalize by making big plays on the outside. And Wright throws a better deep ball than Boller. The Ravens completed 15 passes to their tight ends last Sunday, but need to get their wide-outs more involved. Tennessee starting cornerbacks are extremely inexperienced. Andre Woolfolk has made five career starts and troubled first-round pick Adam Jones could make his first one. The biggest mismatch could be Derrick Mason lining up against Jones.

EDGE: Ravens

Titans run offense vs. Ravens run defense: The Ravens have to avoid allowing Tennessee to control the tempo with its running game. The Titans have two solid but different running backs. Chris Brown is more of a glider, while Travis Henry makes tacklers miss with sudden moves. An underrated offensive line returns four of five starters. The Ravens limited Colts running back Edgerrin James to 3.8 yards a carry despite an average effort. Blockers still seem to be getting to linebacker Ray Lewis, who is at his best when he is free to chase down running backs. Defensive end Tony Weaver has to win his matchup against rookie right tackle Michael Roos.

EDGE: Even

Titans pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: Steve McNair said he is healthier than he has been in years, but his most trusted receiver, Mason, is with the Ravens now. Titans receivers Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico could have trouble going against Ravens cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle. McNair's two biggest threats might be his tight ends, Erron Kinney and Ben Troupe. McNair has thrown 15 interceptions in 14 games against the Ravens, which could signal a productive day for safety Ed Reed. The Ravens have to figure out a way to give more support to nickel back Deion Sanders, who was picked on often by the Colts.

EDGE: Ravens

Special teams: The Ravens' coverage teams are superior to Tennessee's. The Titans also have no legitimate breakaway threat in the return game. Tennessee first-year kicker Rob Bironas is a question mark. Ravens kicker Matt Stover is coming off one of the worst games of his career after missing three field-goal attempts. Some wonder whether Stover's kickoff duties affect his accuracy.

EDGE: Ravens

Intangibles: The Ravens have no fear of the noisy Coliseum, winning in their past three trips there against strong Titans teams. The only concern today is overlooking the NFL's youngest team. But after last Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Colts, the Ravens are determined to head into next week's bye on a positive note. The Ravens, though, lost their last three road games last season by an average of two touchdowns.

EDGE: Ravens

Prediction: This won't rekindle memories of those classic clashes with the Titans. It was evident in the season opener that Tennessee defenders can't tackle. The Ravens will run Jamal Lewis all game and eventually run up the score (at least by the Ravens' standards).

Ravens, 30-10 - Jamison Hensley

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