Scouting report

December 16, 2007|By Jamison Hensley

Ravens run offense vs. Dolphins run defense

Willis McGahee is coming off a season-worst rushing effort (45 yards), but he has made a habit of bouncing back. The past two times he has been held to fewer than 61 rushing yards, he has followed up with a 100-yard game. In six games against Miami, McGahee has averaged 89.8 rushing yards with 13 runs of 10 or more yards. The Dolphins, who have the NFL's worst run defense, allowed 224 rushing yards last Sunday, the third time they have given up more than 200 in a game this season. Edge: Ravens

Ravens pass offense vs. Dolphins pass defense

The Ravens are just one of 10 teams that have thrown more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (10) this season. Last Sunday, Kyle Boller threw for his fewest yards in a start this season (132) and his most interceptions (three). Derrick Mason has the third-most catches in the NFL, but he is the only receiver among the top 14 who averages less than 10 yards a catch. The Dolphins' defense ranks 28th in interceptions (10), 24th in sacks (23) and 31st in third-down efficiency. If cornerback Michael Lehan (groin) is out, Miami will start Travis Daniels, who gave up two touchdowns last Sunday. Ravens tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) will be out for the eighth time in 10 games. Edge: Even

Dolphins run offense vs. Ravens run defense

Miami hasn't recovered since placing running back Ronnie Brown on injured reserve. Jesse Chatman, who has started five games in place of Brown, has practiced on a limited basis, and it remains unknown whether he'll start this week ahead of Samkon Gado, who scored two touchdowns last Sunday. The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 16 games, the longest streak in the NFL. Defensive tackles Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata are both banged up, but they should dominate a questionable offensive line. Edge: Ravens

Dolphins pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

The Ravens likely will start Corey Ivy and Derrick Martin at cornerback because Chris McAlister (knee) is out and Samari Rolle (shoulder) is doubtful. In the two games without McAlister and Rolle this season, the Ravens have given up nine touchdown passes. The Ravens have three sacks in their past three games. The Dolphins will start Cleo Lemon, who was in Ravens training camp in 2002, over rookie John Beck. Lemon can create plays with his mobility (four rushing touchdowns), so the Ravens have to contain him in the pocket. Dolphins quarterbacks haven't thrown a touchdown pass in the past five games. Edge: Even

Special teams

This game features two explosive rookie kick returners. The Ravens' Yamon Figurs had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last Sunday and seems to be getting over his jitters in fielding kicks. The Dolphins' Ted Ginn Jr. fumbled one punt and muffed another last Sunday. Both punters (the Ravens' Sam Koch and Miami's Brandon Fields) rank in the bottom third of the NFL in net average. Ravens kicker Matt Stover hasn't attempted a field goal in five of his past seven games. Edge: Even

Intangibles

Boller hasn't won a start on the road since November 2004. There's a good chance of heavy rain, which seems to always slow down the Ravens. And the Ravens are 1-5 on the road this season, losing by an average of 15 points. Still, the Dolphins are closing in on a winless season at 0-13, and they have been outscored 78-30 the past two weeks. Edge: Even

Prediction

The best way for the Ravens to get Boller a road win is to keep the ball in the hands of their running back. A big day from McGahee on his old stomping grounds of South Florida will allow the Ravens to escape being the punch line of the league. Ravens, 20-17

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