Scouting Report

January 04, 2009|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Dolphins run defense: : In Week 7 at Miami, the Ravens gained 139 rushing yards, the second-most yards allowed on the ground by the Dolphins this season. But NT Jason Ferguson, who missed the first meeting with a chest injury, will be in the middle this time. The Dolphins have allowed more than 120 yards on the ground in five of their past eight games. Suddenly disgruntled Willis McGahee has averaged 94.4 rushing yards in four games in his hometown of Miami. But Le'Ron McClain has taken over as the featured back the past six games. The Ravens have produced at least 140 rushing yards in nine of their 11 wins. Edge: Ravens:

Ravens pass offense vs. Dolphins pass defense: : Joe Flacco has the third-best quarterback rating on the road this season (91.7). He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in six straight games away from home. In the previous meeting at Miami, WR Derrick Mason caught six passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. CB Andre' Goodman, who has a career-high five interceptions, is expected to line up against Mason. The Dolphins have intercepted six passes in their past two games. LB Joey Porter recorded two of his 17 1/2 sacks this season against the Ravens. Edge: Even:

Dolphins run offense vs. Ravens run defense: : The Ravens contained RB Ronnie Brown earlier this season, holding him to 27 yards on 13 carries. His 2.1-yard average was a season low. In the past three games, Brown has been held to fewer than 70 rushing yards a game and no touchdowns. The Ravens, who rank third against the run, have been showing some cracks lately. They have given up at least 90 rushing yards in their past three games. The other concern is the Dolphins' Wildcat offense, which is a direct snap to Brown. The Ravens were the first team to solve Miami's gimmick offense, limiting the Dolphins to 4 yards on five attempts. Edge: Ravens:

Dolphins pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: : Chad Pennington, the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, is the third quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 3,400 yards with seven or fewer interceptions. He set a Dolphins record with a 97.4 passer rating. In his only career meeting with the Ravens (in Week 7), Pennington threw for 295 yards but made a costly mistake. Terrell Suggs' 44-yard interception return for a touchdown proved to be the game-changing play. CBs Samari Rolle (ankle, foot) and Fabian Washington (toe) are expected to start, but both are questionable. S Ed Reed has eight interceptions in his past six games. Edge: Even:

Special teams: : The Dolphins' coverage teams both rank in the bottom eight in the NFL. In the past three games, the Ravens' Jim Leonhard has averaged 14.5 yards on punt returns. The Ravens are undecided whether Tom Zbikowski or Yamon Figurs will run back kickoffs. Ravens K Matt Stover has converted 15 of his past 16 field-goal tries. Miami rookie Dan Carpenter has hit 16 of his past 18 field-goal tries. Edge: Ravens:

Intangibles: : The Ravens finished the regular season strong, winning five of their final six games. The average margin of victory was 20.6 points. The Dolphins have been equally as hot, getting victories in nine of their past 10 games. But the margin of every win except one has been by fewer than 10 points. Miami doesn't have a dominant home-field advantage and actually had a better record on the road (6-2) than at home (5-3). The Ravens have no fear playing in South Florida after beating the Dolphins, 27-13, in October. Edge: Ravens:

Prediction: : All the hype leading up to the game has been the return of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the postseason debut of Flacco. By the end of the game, everyone will be talking about the Ravens' dominating defense. Ravens, 20-6.:

THE PICK RAVENS, 20-6

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