Scouting Report

September 30, 2007|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Browns run defense

Willis McGahee's production has increased each game. He gained 98 yards last week, which included his longest run of the season (37 yards). The Ravens will look to exploit the Browns' run defense, ranked second worst in the NFL. Cleveland hasn't held a starting running back to fewer than 100 yards in a game this season. The weakness is the Browns' aging defensive line (Ted Washington and Orpheus Roye). Edge: Ravens

Ravens pass offense vs. Browns pass defense

The Browns have allowed 11 passing touchdowns, the most in the NFL. No other team has given up more than eight. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright has been a target for quarterbacks, giving up four touchdown passes in three games. Safeties Sean Jones and Brodney Pool continually let receivers run past them. Steve McNair returned last Sunday after missing one game with a groin injury and completed 20 of 27 passes for 198 yards a touchdown. In his past five games against Cleveland, tight end Todd Heap has averaged 5.4 catches and scored two touchdowns. Left tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) is a game-time decision, and receivers Mark Clayton (calf) and Demetrius Williams (heel) are questionable. Edge: Ravens

Browns run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Facing his former team for the first time should be a stiff challenge for Jamal Lewis. The Ravens have the NFL's top-ranked run defense, holding teams to 61.7 rushing yards a game and allowing only three runs of 10 yards or more. Lewis gained 216 yards in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he has totaled 91 yards in his two other games. The Ravens haven't allowed a rushing touchdown in 10 consecutive games. Edge: Ravens

Browns pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Ravens are not at full strength. They miss defensive lineman Trevor Pryce (broken wrist) for his inside pass rush and cornerback Samari Rolle (undisclosed illness) for his man coverage. Dwan Edwards will start for Pryce, and Corey Ivy will replace Rolle. The biggest lapses the past two weeks have come in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens have allowed 327 yards passing and three touchdowns. Derek Anderson, a former Raven, has been up and down this season, throwing five touchdown passes in Week 2 and failing to complete half his passes in weeks 1 and 3. Cleveland could be without its top receiver, tight end Kellen Winslow, who has a partially dislocated left shoulder. Edge: Even

Special teams

Ravens rookie Yamon Figurs leads the NFL in kickoff-return average (38.3 yards) and is third in punt-return average (19.0 yards). The Browns are in the top half of the NFL in punt and kickoff coverage. Ravens punter Sam Koch is eighth in the AFC with a 43-yard average. Scott Player, expected to replace an injured Dave Zastudil, had a net average of 46.4 yards a punt last Sunday for the Browns. Edge: Ravens

Intangibles

The Ravens are 5-3 in Cleveland since relocating from that city and won there last year by one point. Although the Ravens haven't looked impressive the past two weeks, they are coming off a game they won on Matt Stover's 46-yard field goal as time expired. Conversely, the Browns lost at Oakland last week because the potential winning field goal was blocked. There's a sense that the Browns are a snake-bitten franchise. Edge: Ravens

Prediction

The main story line heading into this game is the reunion between Lewis and the Ravens. But McGahee will prove to be the better running back this day. He will get his first 100-yard game for the Ravens as the offense reverts to its running roots. Ravens, 24-10

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