Ravens Vs. Panthers

Scouting Report

October 15, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Panthers run defense

Carolina ranks 21st against the run, but that is skewed by the fact that the Panthers allowed 252 yards on the ground against the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener. In the past four games, Carolina has held teams to 81.2 yards rushing a game. It will be difficult for the Ravens to pound the ball in between the tackles because of the Panthers' massive tackles, former Raven Maake Kemoeatu and Kris Jenkins (a combined 685 pounds). Their effectiveness up front helps out undersized and limited middle linebacker Chris Draft, who has replaced injured starter Dan Morgan. The Ravens have been unable to get on track with Jamal Lewis, who has averaged 2.6 yards a carry the past two weeks. Backups Mike Anderson and Musa Smith might receive more chances today if Lewis continues to struggle.

Edge: Panthers

Ravens pass offense vs. Panthers pass defense

Steve McNair has failed to get in sync with the Ravens' system, throwing five interceptions over his past 57 passes. He has thrown for more than 181 yards just once this season. The Ravens' top three targets - Derrick Mason, Todd Heap and Mark Clayton - have a total of one touchdown the past two weeks. Carolina should be able to put pressure on McNair with its front four, meaning the Panthers can drop back seven defenders in coverage. The toughest matchup will be Ravens right tackle Tony Pashos against defensive end Julius Peppers, who has six sacks and 14 quarterback pressures.

Edge: Panthers

Panthers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens' run defense hasn't been as stout as earlier in the season, showing some cracks against San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (98 yards) and Denver's Tatum Bell (92 yards). But the Ravens remain an elite run-stopping defense, allowing just 2.9 yards a carry. Linebacker Bart Scott has averaged 10 tackles the past three games. The Panthers average 4.4 yards a carry (ninth-best in the NFL), but they won't be at full strength. Featured back DeShaun Foster has to carry the load because first-round pick DeAngelo Williams is out with an ankle injury. Foster has gained more than 100 yards in back-to-back games, the first time he has ever done so in the regular season.

Edge: Ravens

Panthers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

It'll be interesting to see how the Ravens attack the Panthers in passing situations. Carolina likely will use a heavy amount of seven-man protections, which will put pressure on the Ravens to cover speedy receiver Steve Smith for an extended span of time. The Ravens will either have to come with a heavy blitz to try to rush quarterback Jake Delhomme or drop more defenders into coverage and double-team Smith. The Ravens, who have the NFL's third-best pass defense, have 18 sacks (tied for second in NFL) and nine interceptions (tied for first). They have allowed just one quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards this season.

Edge: Ravens

Special teams

The Panthers rank among the NFL's worst in punt and kickoff returns. Ravens return specialist B.J. Sams is seventh in the league in punt returns (11.1 yard average) and third in kickoff returns (27.8). Carolina punter Jason Baker is tied for the NFL lead with 10 kicks placed inside the 20-yard line. Ravens punter Sam Koch made the biggest mistake of his rookie season last week, when he shanked a kick 10 yards.

Edge: Ravens

Intangibles

The Ravens not only had to play on Monday night but they also had a long flight back from Denver, shortening their week of preparation. Carolina is among the hottest teams in the league, winning its past three games. The Panthers have also won four of their past five road games in the regular season. The Ravens are 14-3 at M&T Bank Stadium since October 2004, winning their past six home games.

Edge: Panthers

Prediction

It's going to take longer than five days of preparation for the Ravens to fix their offense against a tough Carolina defense. Until McNair takes full command of this offense, the Ravens will struggle to get to the end zone. The Ravens need to take a long look at their offense during the bye week.

Panthers, 17-13

JAMISON HENSLEY

Game facts

Matchup

Ravens Vs. Panthers

Vs. spread -- Panthers 1-4; Ravens 3-2.

Series -- Panthers lead 2-0.

Last meeting -- Panthers won, 10-7, on Sept. 8, 2002, at Carolina.

Rankings

Ravens offense -- Overall (29), rush (24), pass (28)

Ravens defense -- Overall (2), rush (3), pass (3)

Panthers offense -- Overall (23), rush (12), pass (25)

Panthers defense -- Overall (18), rush (21), pass (16)

Ravens injuries

OUT -- CB Corey Ivy (abdomen).

QUESTIONABLE -- WR Mark Clayton (neck); LB Mike Smith (concussion); DE Gary Stills (abdomen).

PROBABLE -- DT Haloti Ngata (knee); DE Terrell Suggs (thigh); RB Justin Green (thigh); TE Todd Heap (ankle).

Panthers injuries

OUT -- LB Dan Morgan (concussion); RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle).

QUESTIONABLE -- C Justin Hartwig (groin); S Shaun Williams (foot).

PROBABLE -- LB Thomas Davis (illness); RB Nick Goings (thigh); S Kevin McCadam (knee); RB Brad Hoover (thigh).

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