Scouting report

September 16, 2007|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. Jets run defense

Willis McGahee has dominated the New York Jets in his past five games, averaging 132.6 rushing yards and 5.1 yards per carry. The key is giving McGahee more than the 19 carries he got in the season opener. Last week, the Jets allowed 134 rushing yards to the New England Patriots, most of which came on first down. The Ravens need to get a blocker on inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who has outstanding range. EDGE: RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Jets pass defense

The Ravens' quarterback situation is expected to be a game-time decision. If Steve McNair can't throw effectively with an injured groin, Kyle Boller will make his first start in 20 months. Without Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe), Adam Terry moves to left tackle and rookie third-round pick Marshal Yanda will make his first NFL start at right tackle, where he will be challenged by Shaun Ellis. Because the Jets failed to produce any pass rush in their season opener, they allowed three touchdowns through the air (11, 5 and 51 yards). EDGE: EVEN

Jets run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens had the second-best run defense last season and showed no drop-off Monday, when they held Cincinnati Bengals running back Rudi Johnson to 2.8 yards per carry. The Ravens got consistent penetration into the backfield, which should continue against a New York line that has been questionable in the middle. Jets running back Thomas Jones has looked rusty after missing most of the preseason with a calf injury, gaining 42 yards on 14 carries last week. But Jones was effective against the Ravens in 2005, when he ran for 139 yards while with the Chicago Bears. EDGE: RAVENS

Jets pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

Because quarterback Chad Pennington has a right ankle injury, it looks as if Kellen Clemens will make his first NFL start. A second-round pick in 2006, Clemens has a stronger arm than Pennington and has some elusiveness as a runner. But the Ravens' complex and confusing schemes often eat up young quarterbacks. Since 2003, the Ravens have played against a quarterback making his 10th or fewer start 10 times. In those games, the Ravens defense allowed an average of 196.2 passing yards and 11.9 points. EDGE: RAVENS

Special teams

The Ravens' return game took a hit when B.J. Sams suffered a season-ending knee injury. He likely will be replaced by rookie third-round pick Yamon Figurs, one of the fastest players in the NFL. The Jets allowed the Patriots' Ellis Hobbs to return a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, the longest in NFL history. New York kicker Mike Nugent was 11-for-14 (78.6 percent) on field goals away from home last season. In his past 32 games, the Ravens' Matt Stover has converted 60 of 63 field-goal tries (95.2 percent). EDGE: RAVENS

Intangibles

The Ravens are 42-14 at M&T Bank Stadium over the past seven seasons, the best home regular-season record in the NFL during that span. They are also 29-14 after a loss since 2000, which ranks third best in the league. The Jets were among the NFL's best road teams last season, winning six of eight games on the road during the regular season. But the Jets have never beaten the Ravens in Baltimore, losing both previous trips here. EDGE: RAVENS

Prediction

It doesn't matter whether the Ravens start McNair or Boller at quarterback. The Ravens will get back to their roots of running the ball and playing tough defense. It's a combination that the Jets won't be able to handle. RAVENS, 20-7

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