Scouting Report

Ravens Vs. Raiders

September 17, 2006|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN REPORTER

Ravens run offense vs. Raiders run defense

Jamal Lewis has averaged 102.2 yards rushing in two meetings with the Raiders, but he is still not fully recovered from a hip injury. He has produced 100 yards in just two of his past 17 games. The Raiders gave up 131 yards rushing in the season opener to San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who traditionally burns Oakland. But the Raiders allowed running backs to reach 100 yards in only three games last season. The speed of Oakland's defense could cause fits for the Ravens' plodding offensive line.

Edge: Even

Ravens pass offense vs. Raiders pass defense

Steve McNair posted a 94.8 quarterback rating last week, the second highest by a Raven in an opener since 2001. Still, McNair ranked 18th among NFL quarterbacks with a 6.7 yards-per-attempt average. Unlike against Tampa Bay's two-deep zone, the Ravens should have more chances to go downfield against Oakland, especially with tight end Todd Heap. The biggest concern is how right tackle Tony Pashos will hold up against end Derrick Burgess, who led the NFL with 16 sacks last season. Raiders starting cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Fabian Washington have no career interceptions.

Edge: Ravens

Raiders run offense vs. Ravens run defense

If there were any questions about the Ravens' run defense, they were answered in a dominating season-opening effort. The 26-yard rushing total given up against the Buccaneers not only was the best in the NFL in Week 1, but it was also the third lowest in Ravens history. The Raiders' offensive line struggled to open holes against the Chargers on Monday night. Running back LaMont Jordan managed 20 yards on 10 carries and failed to break a run longer than 4 yards. The former Maryland standout averaged 50.6 yards on the road last year. The Ravens allowed just one 100-yard rusher at home last season (Houston's Domanick Davis).

Edge: Ravens

Raiders pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

If San Diego's Shawne Merriman had three sacks attacking Oakland's left side, how many should the Ravens' Terrell Suggs have with left tackle Robert Gallery out because of a calf injury? Journeyman Chad Slaughter, who hasn't started since 2003, takes Gallery's place on a line that allowed nine sacks in the opener. Oakland quarterback Aaron Brooks can be scary because he's so streaky, but he has had more downs than ups recently. The Ravens will be focused on receiver Randy Moss, who likely will be covered by cornerback Chris McAlister. The Raiders' other starting receiver is Alvis Whitted, who has 48 catches in 110 career games.

Edge: Ravens

Special teams

The Ravens' coverage teams have to be more consistent, especially against Oakland kickoff returner Chris Carr (25.2-yard average). Ravens kicker Matt Stover hasn't missed a field-goal attempt since Oct. 31, 2005, in Pittsburgh, converting 22 in a row. Rookie punter Sam Koch averaged 47 yards in his Ravens debut. Oakland's Shane Lechler remains one of the best punters in the NFL, but the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski remains one of the most erratic kickers. Janikowski missed 10 field goals last season, including eight from 40 yards or longer.

Edge: Even

Intangibles

The Raiders haven't won a game since Nov. 20, 2005, losing seven in a row. They are coming off a 27-0 season-opening loss, marking the first time they've been shut out in nine years. Oakland also has to travel cross-country on six days' rest after playing on Monday night. The Ravens have won eight of their past 10 games at home, including four straight.

Edge: Ravens

Prediction

No shutout this time. But the Ravens' defense once again will flex its muscles. The Ravens will leave the Silver and Black looking Black and Blue.

Ravens, 24-10

Today, 1 p.m.--M&T Bank Stadium--Chs. 13, 9 -- Line: Ravens by 12 1/2

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