Scouting report

October 14, 2007|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. Rams run defense

Willis McGahee is third in the AFC in rushing (464 yards) but is the only one in the top 10 who doesn't have a rushing touchdown. He will have a good chance at the end zone against the Rams, who have given up eight rushing touchdowns, tied for worst in the NFL. McGahee likely will be running behind an offensive line that will start three rookies (left tackle Jared Gaither, right guard Ben Grubbs and right tackle Marshal Yanda). St. Louis is giving up 146 rushing yards per game, which is fifth worst in the league. Edge: Ravens

Ravens pass offense vs. Rams pass defense

Quarterback Steve McNair, who missed practice Thursday and Friday with a stiff back, has completed 65.6 percent of his passes but ranks 26th in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.9). The Rams have been prone to giving up big plays, ranking fifth worst in yards allowed per attempt (7.9). St. Louis has started four different cornerbacks this season and will go with Fakhir Brown and Ron Bartell. Todd Johnson, the team leader in special teams tackles, could make his first start with safety Corey Chavous questionable because of a pectoral injury. Dangerous pass rusher Leonard Little, who surprisingly has no sacks this season, will line up against Yanda. Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason leads the NFL in receptions (44), and tight end Todd Heap is expected to return after missing one game with a hamstring injury. Edge: Even

Rams run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Rookie running back Brian Leonard, who is known for his leaping ability, makes his third NFL start in place of the injured Steven Jackson (groin). Leonard is coming off his first 100-yard game, but he could have a tough time against the Ravens, who have the second-best run defense in the NFL. The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their past 12 games at M&T Bank Stadium. St. Louis has had as many injuries as the Ravens on the offensive line, losing left tackle Orlando Pace (shoulder) and left guard Mark Setterstrom (knee) for the season. Edge: Ravens

Rams pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

In his first start in place of a banged-up Marc Bulger, quarterback Gus Frerotte threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions Sunday. His most recent start against the Ravens came with the Denver Broncos in the 2000 playoffs, when he was 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) for 124 yards with one interception and was sacked four times. The Rams' once-feared passing attack is limited because of a thin group of receivers. Torry Holt (knee) and Drew Bennett (quadriceps) are not at full strength, and Isaac Bruce (hamstring), Dante Hall (ankle) and Dane Looker (thigh) are out. The Ravens have limited teams to a 34.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is third best in the NFL. Edge: Ravens

Special teams

The Ravens' Yamon Figurs, who returned a punt for a touchdown in his most recent home game, is no longer limited by a shoulder injury. The Rams' coverage teams traditionally struggle, and the team ranks 25th in yards allowed on punt returns. St. Louis will be hurt by the loss of Hall. Marques Hagans, a converted college quarterback, is scheduled to take his place. Rams punter Donnie Jones leads the NFL with a 50.6-yard average. Edge: Even

Intangibles

The Ravens have yet to put together a complete game this season, but they are playing their only game of the month at M&T Bank Stadium, where they are an NFL-best 44-14 since 2000. They are 2-0 against the NFC West this season and have won seven of their past eight games against the NFC. One of three winless teams in the NFL, the Rams have been at their worst on the road. St. Louis has lost its two road games this season by a combined score of 59-10. Edge: Even

Prediction

The Ravens have talked about how the winless Rams are dangerous because they are so desperate. But who is more desperate than the Ravens' offense in the red zone these days? Ravens, 23-6

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