Scouting Report

The Pick Ravens, 30-10

November 30, 2008|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Bengals run defense: : In the first meeting, the Ravens ran for 229 yards, which remains a season high. They also did it without Willis McGahee. The Ravens should have all three backs - McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain - available against the NFL's 24th-ranked run defense. The Bengals have allowed two 100-yard rushers and 14 touchdowns on the ground. But Cincinnati has done better recently. In their past two home games, the Bengals haven't allowed a team to gain more than 70 yards. Edge: RAVENS:

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Ravens pass offense vs. Bengals pass defense: : Injuries have depleted Cincinnati's secondary and defensive line. Starting CB Johnathan Joseph is on injured reserve, and top backup David Jones (knee) is doubtful. SS Chinedum Ndukwe (foot) is also doubtful, and DEs Frostee Rucker (hamstring) and Robert Geathers (knee) are out. Ravens starting OTs Jared Gaither (shoulder) and Willie Anderson (foot, ankle) are probable. WR Derrick Mason excels on the road, averaging 6.5 catches and 92.1 receiving yards. QB Joe Flacco has a better rating on the road (86.4), averaging 210 passing yards (which is 63.5 yards more than at home). Edge: RAVENS:

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Bengals run offense vs. Ravens run defense: : Since becoming Cincinnati's primary ball carrier, Cedric Benson has averaged 56.6 rushing yards in five games. He gained a season-best 104 yards three games ago against Jacksonville. But Benson will have a challenge against the NFL's fourth-best run defense. The Ravens haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 30 straight games, the longest streak in the NFL. In their past 47 games, only two running backs have cracked 100 yards (Kansas City's Larry Johnson and Tennessee's Travis Henry). The Ravens haven't given up a rushing touchdown in nine of 11 games. The Bengals likely will have an experienced left side again in rookie Anthony Collins at tackle and Nate Livings at guard. Edge: RAVENS:

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Bengals pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: : The Bengals have the third-worst passing attack, which shows Cincinnati hasn't adapted to playing without QB Carson Palmer (elbow). Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will make his eighth start, is a smart quarterback but has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes (six). In 12 games against the Ravens, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh has averaged 6.1 catches and 76.9 receiving yards. The Ravens have returned four of their 19 interceptions for touchdowns, including S Ed Reed's 108-yard score a week ago. Quarterbacks have completed only 52.6 percent of their passes against the Ravens. Edge: RAVENS:

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Special teams: : Ravens P Sam Koch is eighth in the NFL (45.3-yard average), while Cincinnati's Kyle Larson is 29th (39.8). Bengals K Shayne Graham has converted on 87.5 percent of his field-goal attempts (14 of 16), and the Ravens' Matt Stover has connected on 75 percent (15 of 20). Neither team gets much from the return game. Both punt returners - the Ravens' Yamon Figurs and the Bengals' Antonio Chatman - rank in the middle of the NFL. Edge: EVEN:

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Intangibles: : The Ravens haven't overlooked any teams so far, going 5-0 against teams with losing records. They have beaten the Bengals, Browns (4-7) twice, Raiders (3-8) and Texans (4-7) by an average of 16.4 points. Cincinnati is done for the season after having been eliminated from the playoffs. The Ravens haven't won at Paul Brown Stadium since 2004, but they have fared much better on the road this season. Edge: RAVENS:

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Prediction: : This has all the makings of a trap game. But the Ravens' biggest problem has been beating elite teams. They put lesser teams away handily.

Ravens 30-10:

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