Scouting Report

December 20, 2009|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Bears run defense: No team has run the ball more in December since 2007 than the Ravens, who are averaging 158 yards per game in this month. The Ravens are 6-0 this season when rushing for at least 130 yards in a game. Running back Ray Rice has averaged 90.1 rushing yards at home this season. Without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, Chicago's defense ranks 24th against the run. The Bears have allowed a running back to gain at least 85 rushing yards in the past five games. Ravens left tackle Jared Gaither (foot) is out, which means Michael Oher moves from right to left tackle. Oniel Cousins, whose strength is run-blocking, starts at right tackle. Edge: RAVENS

Ravens pass offense vs. Bears pass defense: Wide receiver is a major concern for the Ravens. Mark Clayton (hamstring, doubtful) is expected to miss his second straight game, and Kelley Washington (ankle, questionable) is a game-time decision. Little-used Demetrius Williams might have to start, and recent practice squad member Justin Harper could be the No. 3 wide-out. At home, Joe Flacco has eight touchdown passes and four interceptions for a 96.3 quarterback rating. Bears starting cornerbacks Charles Tillman (back) and Zach Bowman (illness) are questionable. Tillman is tied for the league lead with six forced fumbles. Chicago's top pass rusher, Adewale Ogunleye, will likely line up against Cousins. Edge: EVEN

Bears run offense vs. Ravens run defense: The Bears have the NFL's worst ground game. Running back Matt Forte has been a major disappointment in his second season. He is gaining 52.6 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. The Ravens allow 3.5 yards per carry, which is best in the NFL. In their past five games, the Ravens have given up two rushing touchdowns. Linebacker Tavares Gooden, who missed Friday's practice with a groin injury, is questionable. Edge: RAVENS

Bears pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: A Ravens defense that has been forcing turnovers recently faces quarterback Jay Cutler, who leads the NFL with 22 interceptions. He has thrown multiple interceptions in six of 13 games. But Cutler has the arm strength to beat defenses deep. Chicago has produced 43 20-yard passes, 11th in the NFL. The Ravens, who have two sacks in their past four games, need to rattle Cutler to create turnovers. The Ravens are prone to giving up big plays if they can't get to the quarterback. Free safety Ed Reed (groin and foot) returned to practice Friday and could start after missing the past two games. Chicago's top receiver, Devin Hester (calf, doubtful), isn't expected to play. The Bears will likely start Earl Bennett and rookie Johnny Knox at receiver. Edge: EVEN

Special teams: The Ravens, whose coverage teams rank in the top four in the NFL, will be tested. The Bears have two of the best kickoff returners in the league in Knox and Danieal Manning. The Ravens catch a break with Hester out. Bennett is expected to take over punt-returning duties. Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff has made nine of 11 field-goal tries since replacing Steve Hauschka. Bears kicker Robbie Gould, who was on the Ravens' practice squad in 2005, has made seven of his past eight. Edge: EVEN

Intangibles: The Ravens know they need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive in a crowded AFC wild-card race. The Bears, who haven't lived up to expectations, are 1-5 on the road. The Ravens are 8-0 at home this decade when the game-time temperature dips below 40 degrees. They rarely overlook teams under coach John Harbaugh, having won eight of nine games in which they were favored by at least seven points. Edge: RAVENS

Prediction: Consistency has been a problem for the Ravens, who haven't won back-to-back games since September. So this will be a closer game than many expect. Cutler will make enough plays to keep the Bears within striking range, but the Ravens' ground game will grind out a much-needed victory. RAVENS, 20-16

When the Ravens have the ball

Ravens offense

WR: 87 Williams

LT: 74 Oher

LG: 66 Grubbs

C: 77 Birk

RG: 73 Yanda

RT: 64 Cousins

TE: 86 Heap

QB: 5 Flacco

FB: 33 L. McClain

RB: 27 Rice

WR: 85 Mason

Bears defense

DE: 93 Ogunleye

DT: 91 Harris

NT: 95 Adamsl

DE: 96 Brown

OLB: 53 Roach

MLB: 92 Hillenmeyer

OLB: 55 Briggs

LCB: 33 Tillman

SS: 24 Afaleva

FS: 38 Manning

RCB: 35 Brown

When the Bears have the ball

Bears offense

WR: 80 Bennett

LT: 76 Pace

LG: 68 Omiyale

C: 57 Kreutz

RG: 63 Garza

RT: 74 Williams

TE: 82 Olsen

QB: 6 Cutler

FB: 37 McKie

RB: 22 Forte

WR: 13 Knox

Ravens defense

DT: 92 Ngata

NT: 97 Gregg

DE: 93 Edwards

OLB: 55 Suggs

ILB: 56 Gooden

ILB: 52 Lewis

OLB: 95 Johnson

LCB: 21 Webb

SS: 26 Landry

FS: 20 Reed

RCB: 24 Foxworth

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