Ravens Vs. Packers

Gameday

December 19, 2005|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Packers run defense

The Ravens are struggling at 92.8 yards a game, which would be a franchise-worst mark. Jamal Lewis is expected to play with a hand injury, but Chester Taylor should get the bulk of the carries. In his past three games -- all of which included double-digit attempts -- Taylor has gained 158 and averaged 3.2 yards a carry. He also has lost two fumbles in Ravens territory the past two weeks. Green Bay, which ranks 24th against the run, likely will start rookie Roy Manning for injured weak-side linebacker Robert Thomas (quadriceps). In their past three losses, the Packers have given up 93 rushing yards to Chicago's Thomas Jones, 120 to Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook and 122 to Minnesota's Mewelde Moore.

Edge --Even

Ravens pass offense vs. Packers pass defense

With the NFL's top-ranked pass defense, the Packers have limited quarterbacks to a 49 percent completion rate and 105 net passing yards over the past four games. Starting cornerbacks Al Harris and Ahmad Carroll have combined to break up 25 passes. Green Bay end Aaron Kampman (team-leading 6 1/2 sacks) has the edge over right tackle Tony Pashos, who has been solid since taking over for Orlando Brown. Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller is coming off perhaps the worst game of his career, committing three pivotal turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) in Denver. Rookie Mark Clayton has led the Ravens in receiving the past two games, totaling 14 catches for 191 yards. The team's leading receiver, Derrick Mason, hasn't produced more than 63 yards since Boller reclaimed his starting job five games ago.

Edge -- Packers

Packers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens have allowed just 3.7 yards a carry by using some creative methods. But they probably can't stack the box with eight defenders against a dangerous quarterback like Brett Favre. Bart Scott, who has replaced Ray Lewis in the starting lineup, has been a pleasant surprise and ranks second on the team in tackles. Jarret Johnson is expected to replace Tony Weaver (knee and back) at defensive end for the third straight game. The Packers' Samkon Gado, a rookie out of Liberty University, will make his fifth start after four other running backs got banged up or faltered. He has averaged 119 yards the past three weeks, running for 171 last week.

Edge --Even

Packers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

It has not been a stellar year for Favre, whose 22 interceptions lead the NFL. He hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in the past two games, which is just the third time during his streak of 238 consecutive starts that he has had a two-game touchdown drought. Receiver Donald Driver has 71 catches, but no other Packer has more than 34. Tight end Bubba Franks (neck and back) is expected to be replaced by David Martin. The Ravens, who have the seventh-ranked pass defense, have allowed one 300-yard passer and have held seven quarterbacks under 200 yards passing. The biggest problem has been the playmaking ability of their secondary, which has combined for only two interceptions this season.

Edge -- Ravens

Special teams

With two of the top 10 red-zone defenses playing, field-goal kicking could be a major factor. The Ravens' Matt Stover has been successful on 22 of his past 23 field goals, hitting the game-winners in the past two home games. The Packers' Ryan Longwell has connected on eight of his past nine attempts, including four beyond 40 yards. Green Bay, which ranks sixth on punt coverage and 25th on kickoffs, had to place its top special teams tackler, Brady Poppinga, on injured reserve last week. Ravens return specialist B.J. Sams is second in the NFL on punt returns (11.2-yard average) and ran back a kickoff 87 yards last week.

Edge -- Even

Intangibles

The Ravens have won six of their past eight home games, including four of their past five. The Packers are 1-6 on the road this season and 0-2 on Monday Night Football. Green Bay could be pumped up for what might be Favre's last Monday night game, but the Ravens were equally riled up because of all the talk centering on the Green Bay quarterback. Favre is 42-14 in December, the third-best record for a quarterback in that month since 1970.

Edge -- Ravens

Prediction

This won't be Favre's last Monday night appearance. And it won't be one of his classic performances either. He'll make enough turnovers to cost the Packers.

Ravens -- 19-17

Jamison Hensley

Game facts

Matchup

Vs. spread -- Packers 5-8, Ravens 5-8.

Series -- Packers lead 2-0.

Last meeting -- Packers won, 31-23, on Oct. 14, 2001, in Green Bay.

NFL rankings

Ravens offense -- No. 26 (rush No. 26, pass No. 23)

Packers defense -- No. 5 (rush No. 24, pass No. 1)

Packers offense -- No. 18 (rush No. 30, pass No. 8)

Ravens defense -- No. 6 (rush No. 14, pass No. 7)

Ravens injuries

Out -- TE Daniel Wilcox (ankle).

Questionable -- RB Justin Green (wrist); LB Mike Smith (thigh); DE Tony Weaver (knee/back).

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