Scouting report

Ravens vs. Lions

October 09, 2005|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Lions run defense

After running the ball on 40 of 66 plays last Sunday, the Ravens plan to keep it on the ground again. But that commitment is contingent on improving their 2.6-yard-per-carry average this season. The majority of the runs likely will stretch to the outside, which will allow them to avoid Detroit's big tackles, Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson. Stringing runs to the outside also will test the Lions' average defensive ends (Cory Redding and James Hall). Detroit's run defense has been hot and cold. After giving up 139 yards to Chicago's Thomas Jones, the Lions limited Tampa Bay's Carnell Williams to 13 yards last Sunday. Ravens fullback Alan Ricard, who practiced just once last week because of a calf injury, will be a game-time decision.

Edge -- Even

Ravens pass offense vs. Lions pass defense

If the Ravens want to maintain their ball-control game plan, they'll need the passing game to convert more third downs. The Ravens rank 23rd in the NFL in third-down efficiency (35.4 percent) and continually run routes yards short of the first-down markers. Quarterback Anthony Wright completed 71.4 percent of his passes last Sunday yet always seems to have one bad throw a game that costs the Ravens. The Lions' pass defense is solid, ranking 14th in the league. At cornerback, Dre Bly often gambles to make interceptions, and banged-up Andre Goodman is replacing injured Fernando Bryant. Strong safety Kenoy Kennedy is a hard hitter but lacks speed. Detroit's pass rush is not considered a concern.

Edge -- Lions

Lions run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Lions tried to pound the ball last Sunday against Tampa Bay but they probably won't stick to that strategy against the Ravens, the NFL's second-best run defense. Running back Kevin Jones, who is averaging 3.3 yards a carry, hasn't broken a run longer than 8 yards this season. Another problem has been at fullback, where Paul Smith has filled in for injured Cory Schlesinger (broken fibula). Smith doesn't have the size or skill to open holes like Schlesinger. Ravens nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu won his matchup last Sunday against athletic New York Jets center Kevin Mawae and will face a more physical assignment in Detroit's Dominic Raiola. The Ravens haven't permitted a team to average more than 3.3 yards a carry in a game this season.

Edge -- Ravens

Lions pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

Knowing how well the Ravens stack up against the run in addition to playing at home, Detroit might open up its offense. The Lions have big targets in first-round picks Roy Williams and Mike Williams. Their passing game took a hit when receiver Charles Rogers was suspended. That means former Raven Kevin Johnson will be the third receiver. But throwing the ball more increases the chances of turnovers with Joey Harrington, who has been picked off 55 times in 49 career games. The Ravens are just one of two teams that have yet to make an interception. They also have little to fear with Harrington completing just one pass of more than 40 yards this season. This is a defense that has held teams to 30.2 percent third-down efficiency, which ranks sixth in the NFL.

Edge -- Ravens

Special teams

With offenses struggling mightily, winning the field-position battle is critical. The Ravens have the fourth-best punt-return team in the NFL, with B.J. Sams averaging 11.2 yards on his runbacks. Detroit's punt coverage team is weak. The second-worst unit in the league has given up 13.4 yards a return. Ravens kicker Matt Stover has rebounded after a rough start to convert his past three tries. The Lions' Jason Hanson, who had been bothered by a hamstring injury, has made all three of his field-goal attempts. Ex-Ravens long snapper Joe Maese will play his first game for Detroit in place of injured Don Muhlbach.

Edge -- Ravens

Intangibles

The Ravens have flopped recently on the road, losing their last four trips by a combined score of 89-30. Detroit has won three of its past four at Ford Field. Both teams are still in desperation mode with 1-2 records. But the Lions have more of an emotional edge. They are looking for some vindication after a questionable instant replay call overturned a late touchdown and took away a victory at Tampa Bay last Sunday.

Edge -- Lions

Prediction

In the Ravens' four-game road losing streak, they have fallen to quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair. It's hard to imagine Harrington joining that list. In fact, if Jeff Garcia were healthy, Harrington would be out of a job. But Garcia isn't, so the Lions must go with Harrington, who specializes in what the Ravens desperately need - turnovers.

Ravens -- 17-9

Lineups

Ravens offense

WR 89 Mark Clayton LT 75 Jonathan Ogden LG 64 Edwin Mulitalo C 62 Mike Flynn RG 68 Keydrick Vincent RT 77 Orlando Brown TE 86 Todd Heap WR 85 Derrick Mason QB 2 Anthony Wright FB 34 Ovie Mughelli RB 31 Jamal Lewis

Lions defense

LE 78 Cory Redding LT 92 Shaun Rogers RT 72 Dan Wilkinson RE 96 James Hall OLB 52 James Davis MLB 50 Earl Holmes OLB 97 Boss Bailey CB 35 Andre Goodman CB 32 Dre Bly FS 42 Terrence Holt SS 26 Kenoy Kennedy

Lions offense

WR 88 Mike Williams LT 76 Jeff Backus LG 64 Rick Demulling C 51 Dominic Raiola RG 65 Damien Woody RT 79 Kelly Butler TE 81 Marcus Pollard WR 11 Roy Williams QB 3 Joey Harrington FB 27 Paul Smith RB 34 Kevin Jones

Ravens defense

LE 95 Jarret Johnson LT 97 Kelly Gregg RT 92 M. Kemoeatu RE 55 Terrell Suggs OLB 96 Adalius Thomas MLB 52 Ray Lewis OLB 50 Tommy Polley CB 21 Chris McAlister CB 22 Samari Rolle SS 20 Ed Reed FS 47 Will Demps

Today, 1 p.m.--Ford Field, Detroit--Chs. 13, 9--Line: Lions by 1 1/2 -- Records: Ravens 1-2, Lions 1-2

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