Scouting report

Ravens Preview

Ravens Gameday

September 10, 2007|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Bengals run defense

The Ravens want to control the clock to keep Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer off the field. That means they will rely on new running back Willis McGahee, who was not impressive in the preseason (47 yards on 18 carries). It's critical that left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who is questionable with a toe injury, returns to a young offensive line. The Bengals are traditionally soft up the middle, and starting outside linebacker Rashad Jeanty (shin) is out. But the Ravens had problems running against Cincinnati last season, averaging 3.8 yards a carry. EDGE: EVEN

Ravens pass offense vs. Bengals pass defense

In 15 games against Cincinnati, Steve McNair has completed 60 percent of his passes, throwing 21 touchdown passes and five interceptions for a 95.7 quarterback rating. The Bengals had the second-worst pass defense in the NFL last season and could have matchup problems against the Ravens. Derrick Mason should get open against overrated cornerback Deltha O'Neal, and Todd Heap should have a big game against a weak Cincinnati linebacker group. The secondary could be weakened if cornerback Johnathan Joseph (questionable, foot) can't play. Right tackle Adam Terry could have trouble against end Robert Geathers, a strong pass rusher. EDGE: RAVENS

Bengals run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens return six starters to a front seven that finished second in the league against the run, giving up 75.9 yards a game. Only two running backs (Travis Henry and Larry Johnson) broke 100 yards against the Ravens last season. But Bengals running back Rudi Johnson has been effective in the past four meetings, averaging 83.7 yards rushing and scoring four touchdowns. Jarret Johnson, the only new starter on the Ravens defense, will have a tough matchup against Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson. EDGE: EVEN

Bengals pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has owned the Ravens in the past five meetings, averaging 272 yards passing and compiling a 108.2 rating. The Ravens traditionally have struggled to contain receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson. Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle, who allowed a league-worst 11 yards per pass attempt last season, is expected to cover Johnson. In two games against the Ravens last season, Johnson was relatively quiet, catching 12 passes for 123 yards. The Bengals are undecided on who will line up at left tackle (Levi Jones or Andrew Whitworth) against Terrell Suggs. EDGE: BENGALS

Special teams

Bengals kicker Shayne Graham, who is coming off his worst season in five years, has a hip injury. The Ravens' Matt Stover was the NFL's most accurate kicker last season, converting 93.3 percent of his field-goal attempts. Ravens returner B.J. Sams is more dangerous than Cincinnati's punt returner (Skyler Green) and kickoff returner (Tab Perry). Gary Stills, who led the Ravens in special teams tackles, has been battling a chest injury. EDGE: RAVENS

Intangibles

The Ravens are 2-4 when they open the regular season on the road. Their record is more dismal in prime time, as last season they were 0-3 in nationally televised games. The Bengals have dominated this AFC North rivalry lately, winning four of the past five meetings. EDGE: BENGALS

Prediction

The Ravens have been quietly focused on this game all summer and will come out and deliver the same type of passionate performance they had in last season's opener in Tampa Bay. Before a national television audience, this is a statement game for the Ravens. RAVENS, 24-13

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