Scouting report

Ravens Preview

October 07, 2007|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. 49ers run defense

Willis McGahee has improved his rushing yards each week, gaining 100 for the first time as a Raven last Sunday. The Ravens probably will get the ball more to McGahee (who is averaging 20 carries a game), especially in the red zone. Look for the Ravens to attack Aubrayo Franklin and Marques Douglas, former Ravens who are starting on the San Francisco defensive line. Ranked 25th against the run, the 49ers gave up 205 yards rushing to Pittsburgh two games ago. Rookie linebacker Patrick Willis leads the 49ers in tackles and has made 10 or more tackles in all four games. Edge: Ravens

Ravens pass offense vs. 49ers pass defense

Injuries could affect the Ravens' passing game. Steve McNair still hasn't looked right since hurting his groin in the season opener. The Ravens could be missing tight end Todd Heap (hamstring), although Daniel Wilcox (foot) is expected to play. Derrick Mason, the team's leading receiver, is questionable with a knee injury. Rookie right tackle Marshal Yanda will have a challenge against 49ers end Bryant Young, who leads the team with four sacks. Edge: Even

49ers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens know the 49ers' offense revolves around running back Frank Gore, and they will load the box to stop him. Ranked second in the NFL in fewest yards per carry allowed (3.0), the Ravens have held starting running backs to 67 yards or fewer this season. They have allowed just one rushing touchdown in 11 games. Gore has struggled this season, failing to gain more than 81 yards in a game this season. He fumbled twice last Sunday, losing one. He has not scored a touchdown in his past two games. Edge: Ravens

49ers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

San Francisco, which has the NFL's worst passing attack, will be less than full strength because quarterback Alex Smith (shoulder) and tight end Vernon Davis (knee) are out. In his first start since 2005, quarterback Trent Dilfer expects the Ravens to attack him. The 49ers' offensive line gave up six sacks last Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks, including a knockout blow to Smith. After being held without a sack for the first time in 24 games, the Ravens should be more aggressive because they aren't afraid of Dilfer beating them deep. The 49ers have one passing touchdown this season. Edge: Ravens

Special teams

Ravens kicker Matt Stover is 3-for-6 beyond 40 yards this season, while the 49ers' Joe Nedney has the stronger leg, making his past nine tries past 40. The Ravens' Yamon Figurs, who has a shoulder injury, is a dangerous returner, but he made a costly fumble last Sunday. San Francisco punt returner Michael L. Lewis is 10th in the NFL with a 10.5-yard average. Edge: Even

Intangibles

The Ravens have been dreadful in losing both road games this season, turning the ball over eight times. The 49ers are reeling after dropping two straight games and losing Smith for an extended period of time. Over the past three seasons, San Francisco has lost 10 of 18 home games, including last Sunday's 23-3 loss to Seattle. The Ravens have won 30 of 44 games after a loss since 2000, the second-best record in the NFL over that span. Edge: Even

Prediction

The biggest weakness of the Ravens' defense has been giving up big plays in the passing game. But they won't let that happen with Dilfer. Dilfer again will find heartache when it comes to the Ravens. Ravens, 20-6

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