Scouting report

Ravens vs. Jaguars

November 13, 2005|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Ravens run offense vs. Jaguars run defense

Jamal Lewis has been held to 61 yards or fewer in his past four games, two of which came against struggling run defenses such as Cleveland (ranked 28th) and Cincinnati (23rd). The Ravens still believe they can get back to their smash-mouth running game, but why should it be different against Jacksonville (24th in run defense)? Lewis has hurt the Ravens more than he has helped them, fumbling three times and scoring just one rushing touchdown. The biggest mismatch of the game is the Ravens' interior line against mammoth defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, who weigh a combined 640 pounds. Even with Stroud slowed by an ankle injury, it could be impossible for the Ravens to run inside.

Edge -- Jaguars

Ravens pass offense vs. Jaguars pass defense

Kyle Boller will make his first start in nine weeks and will need time to shake off the rust. It'll be interesting to see if Derrick Mason, who has fifth-most receptions in the league, will remain an integral part of the game plan after being ignored by Boller in the preseason. Defenses can shut down the Ravens' passing attack when they take away the deep-in pattern from Mason and the crossing route to tight end Todd Heap. The Jaguars excel against the pass because they get a strong rush from their front four and drop seven defenders into coverage. Ravens right tackles Orlando Brown and Tony Pashos will need help to contain defensive end Paul Spicer, who has 5 1/2 sacks.

Edge -- Jaguars

Jaguars run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Fred Taylor is out with ankle injury, and the Jaguars will replace him with the tandem of Greg Jones and rookie Alvin Pearman. Jacksonville did score three touchdowns without Taylor in the second half to beat the Houston Texans last Sunday, but it gained only 43 yards rushing (eight of which came on a quarterback draw by quarterback Byron Leftwich). Still, the Ravens have gotten pushed around in two of their past three games, including last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Jaguars' offensive line is not in the same class as the Bengals', but it has opened holes for the 11th-ranked rushing attack in the NFL. The Ravens, who have the 10th-ranked run defense, will be without middle linebacker Ray Lewis for a third straight game.

Edge -- Even

Jaguars pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

A Ravens defense already playing without safety Ed Reed (ankle) could be missing its top pass rusher in Terrell Suggs (thigh), who will be a game-time decision. Jarret Johnson likely would replace Suggs in running downs, and Roderick Green would take his place in passing situations. Injuries also will sideline Dale Carter (hamstring) and B.J. Ward (thigh), which likely would leave Deion Sanders as the only backup safety. Leftwich is having his best season, completing 58.2 percent of his throws for 1,636 yards. Receiver Ernest Wilford has 10 receptions for 234 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. The other receiver, Jimmy Smith, has traditionally roughed up the Ravens, averaging more than six catches and 105 yards in 14 meetings.

Edge -- Even

Special teams

The Jaguars feature two below-average coverage teams, ranking 21st on punts and 26th on kickoffs. That could provide openings for B.J. Sams, who ranks third in the NFL in punt returns (11.0-yard average) and made a 41-yard kickoff return last Sunday. Jacksonville's Pearman is 10th in the NFL in punt returns with an 8.4-yard average. Matt Stover has made seven field goals in his past two games and has converted 16 of 20 for the season. The Jaguars' Josh Scobee had connected on seven consecutive field-goal attempts before missing a pair two weeks ago.

Edge -- Ravens

Intangibles

Jacksonville is honed in on a playoff run, while the Ravens are patching together a lineup because injuries are piling up. The Jaguars are strong at home, having beaten division leaders Seattle and Cincinnati at Alltel Stadium. The Ravens are weak on the road, having lost their past seven away from home. The Ravens' defense is doing an admirable job without injured Lewis and Reed, but how long can that hold up? The Ravens' offense has lost all confidence, scoring just one touchdown in the past three games.

Edge -- Jaguars

Prediction

The return of Boller won't solve the Ravens' red-zone problems, especially on the road, where they tend to lose their way. Aren't the Ravens taking this tribute to the 2000 touchdown drought a bit too far?

Jaguars -- 17-9

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