Scouting report

November 25, 2007|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. Chargers run defense

One of the most consistent running backs in the NFL this season, Willis McGahee is coming off his third 100-yard game for the Ravens and ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing. He has gained at least 77 rushing yards in seven of 10 games and has scored a touchdown in five straight games. Once a dominant run defense, San Diego ranks 23rd against therun this season, giving up 122 yards last Sunday at Jacksonville. But the Chargers are tougher against the run at home. In their past three games in San Diego, the Chargers haven't allowed a running back to gain more than 62 yards and haven't given up a rushing touchdown. Edge: Ravens

Ravens pass offense vs. Chargers pass defense Starting for an injured Steve McNair for a second straight week, Kyle Boller will try to conquer his troubles on the road. He has lost eight straight starts away from home, throwing six touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in that stretch. Boller has to make smart decisions against the Chargers, who lead the NFL with 17 interceptions. Led by cornerback Antonio Cromartie, San Diego has picked off 12 passes in its past three home games. The Ravens are expected to play without tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) and No. 3 receiver Demetrius Williams (ankle). Rookie third-round pick Marshal Yanda might start at right tackle over Adam Terry, who has struggled recently. Edge: Chargers

Chargers run offense vs. Ravens run defense

The Ravens, who allowed their most rushing yards (117) of the season last Sunday, still have the NFL's second-ranked run defense. Instead of going against the Browns' power running game, they'll face the shifty running style of LaDainian Tomlinson, who remains among the most talented players in the NFL when given the ball. Although he's averaging more than 4 yards a carry, Tomlinson is getting just 19 carries a game in Norv Turner's offense. Last season, Tomlinson had 98 rushing yards but no touchdowns against the Ravens. Linebacker Ray Lewis (above) is coming off his best game of the season. Edge: Even

Chargers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Ravens could be starting Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle together for the first time since the second game of the season. McAlister (knee sprain) is questionable, and Rolle (epilepsy) is expected to return after being sidelined the past three weeks. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been inconsistent all season. He threw for 309 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, but he had two critical fourth-quarter interceptions. The Ravens have to bracket their coverage to tight end Antonio Gates, who leads San Diego in catches (54) and touchdown receptions (six). Edge: Even

Special teams

In the Chargers' past two home games, their special teams have scored three touchdowns, including two by returner Darren Sproles. The Ravens' punt and kickoff coverage units rank in the bottom third in the NFL and struggled in containing the Browns' Joshua Cribbs. San Diego punter Mike Scifres has placed 22 kicks inside the 20-yard line, which is third best in the NFL. Both kickers, the Ravens' Matt Stover and the Chargers' Nate Kaeding, have field-goal success rates of more than 80 percent. Edge: Chargers

Intangibles

The Ravens have lost four straight games, matching the longest losing streak in the team's 12-year history. In that skid, the Ravens have held the lead for five minutes, seven seconds (out of 240 minutes played). The Chargers have been equally disappointing this season, but they are 4-1 at home. The Ravens have struggled on the road this season, losing three of four away from home. Edge: Chargers

Prediction The Ravens haven't lived up to their potential, especially when playing on the road. Boller epitomizes the Ravens' struggles, failing to win a start away from home since November 2004. Against the ball-hawking Chargers, the odds are certainly not in his favor to end the streak. Chargers, 19-13

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