Scouting Report

the pick Ravens, 31-12

December 28, 2008|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Jaguars run defense: : Converted FB Le'Ron McClain has averaged 92.2 rushing yards in his past five games, scoring three touchdowns. It'll be interesting to see whether the Ravens will get the Willis McGahee from last game (103 yards) or the previous five games (a total of 76 yards). The Ravens, who have the NFL's No. 2 rushing attack, have gained at least 140 yards on the ground in nine of 10 wins this season. Jacksonville is 14th against the run but has looked stronger recently. The Jaguars have limited teams to 52.3 rushing yards in their past three games. Edge: Ravens:

Ravens pass offense vs. Jaguars pass defense: : Joe Flacco has struggled at home this season. In seven games at M&T Bank Stadium, he has thrown four touchdown passes and seven interceptions for a 60.1 quarterback rating. Derrick Mason (shoulder and trapezius), the Ravens' leading receiver, did not practice last week and might not play if the Patriots lose before the Ravens' game (which would clinch a playoff spot for the Ravens). OT Willie Anderson (foot) is also questionable. The Jaguars are without their top cornerback, Rashean Mathis, who was placed on injured reserve this month. Jacksonville has given up 25 passing touchdowns (the third most in the NFL) and has 26 sacks (23rd in the league). Edge: Even:

Jaguars run offense vs. Ravens run defense: : The Ravens gave up 90 yards Dec. 20 to Dallas' Tashard Choice - the second-highest rushing total they've allowed this season. But it could be tougher for Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who missed most of practice with a knee injury. The Jaguars have to rely on Jones-Drew because Fred Taylor was placed on injured reserve three weeks ago. The Ravens are ranked third against the run, but they are even tougher to run against in Baltimore. With Ray Lewis manning the middle, the Ravens have gone 30 straight home games without surrendering 100 yards to a running back. That dates to October 2004. Edge: Ravens:

Jaguars pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: : Jacksonville has given up 41 sacks - seventh worst in the league - because of its patchwork offensive line. G Vince Manuwai and G Maurice Williams suffered season-ending injuries in the opener, and T Richard Collier was shot 14 times only days before the first game. The Jaguars' leading receiver, Matt Jones, has been suspended after being charged with cocaine possession. QB David Garrard has an 86.9 passer rating this month, throwing five touchdown passes and three interceptions. The Ravens lead the NFL with 24 interceptions, including 14 in seven home games. Terrell Suggs has three sacks in his past four games. Edge: Ravens:

Special teams: : The Ravens' Matt Stover has connected on 13 straight field-goal attempts. Jacksonville's Josh Scobee has missed four of his past seven. Ravens P Sam Koch is third in the AFC in net average (40.6 yards). The Jaguars' Steve Weatherford, who is replacing the injured Adam Podlesh (Maryland), is netting 33.6 yards. Ravens punt returner Jim Leonhard ranks sixth in the NFL with a 12.2-yard average. Edge: Ravens:

Intangibles: : The Ravens have all the motivation in this matchup because a win would clinch a playoff spot. They haven't overlooked an opponent this season, going 6-0 against teams that currently have losing records (winning by an average margin of 31-12). With the resignation of player personnel chief James "Shack" Harris last week, the Jaguars continue to be in disarray. Jacksonville has lost five of its past six games. The Ravens have won their past seven season finales at home. Edge: Ravens:

Prediction: : Under first-year head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens simply don't overlook teams. It's usually not close, either. And it won't be today. It's on to the playoffs. Ravens, 31-12:

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