Scouting report: Ravens vs. Falcons

November 10, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Ravens run offense vs. Falcons run defense: Ray Rice has averaged 94 yards rushing the past four games. But Rice has been more efficient than electric in the running game. He hasn't broken a run longer than 18 yards during that stretch. The Ravens are 4-1 when they rush for over 100 yards as a team. The Falcons are fast and small, but they've been effective. Over the past six games, the Falcons' run defense has gone from No. 26 in the NFL to No. 6. Atlanta has allowed only three runs over 15 yards during that time, but two came Sunday against Tampa Bay. Curtis Lofton, the Falcons' leading tackler is questionable with a knee injury.Edge: EVEN

Ravens pass offense vs. Falcons pass defense: Joe Flacco, the NFL's highest rated passer over the past seven weeks, hasn't been as sharp on the road this season. In four games away from home, Flacco has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions for a 69.8 quarterback rating. But his streak of 129 passes without an interception is the longest of his career. Atlanta has made 13 interceptions this season, which is tied for third in the NFL. Ten players have picked off at least one pass. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has only led the Ravens in catches once in the past four games. Tight end Todd Heap has scored three touchdowns in seven games played indoors. Michael Oher will have a tough assignment against Falcons pass rusher John Abraham, who has the fourth-most sacks (28) in the NFC since 2008. Edge: EVEN

Falcons run offense vs. Ravens run defense: Atlanta's Michael Turner has been one of the hottest running backs in the NFL, breaking 100 yards in four of his past six games including two straight. The 5-foot-10, 244-pound back has scored four touchdowns the past two games. Turner's production is a major reason Atlanta ranks fourth in the NFL in time of possession. The Ravens' run defense has been one of the disappointments this season. They have to prove they can bring down a power back like Turner. The Ravens struggled against an up-the-gut runner in Cleveland's Peyton Hillis, who ran for 144 yards. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis ranks 11th in the NFL with 68 tackles. Atlanta center Todd McClure is questionable with a knee injury.Edge: FALCONS

Falcons pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has excelled in domes, where he has a 90.9 rating in 23 games. He has thrown for 32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions indoors. But Ryan's best weapon, wide receiver Roddy White, hasn't practiced this week. White, who is second in the NFL with 58 catches, is questionable with a knee injury. When White was injured Sunday, Ryan relied on tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had eight receptions for 72 yards. The Ravens have limited starting tight ends to 27.7 yards receiving. Josh Wilson is expected to make his first start in place of Fabian Washington, who has been benched the past two games. Free safety Ed Reed has three interceptions in two games back from the physically-unable-to-perform list. EDGE: EVEN

Special teams: Atlanta has received steady production from Eric Weems, who is averaging 13.6 yards on punts (fourth in the NFL) and 25 yards on kickoffs (15th in the league). Ravens punter Sam Koch is tied for the league lead with 19 punts inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Billy Cundiff is second in the NFL with 22 touchbacks, which is already a Ravens record. The weakest area of the Falcons' special teams is their punt coverage, which is second-worst in the NFL. Lardarius Webb has taken over as the Ravens' punt returner. Cundiff has made 11 of his past 12 field goals. Atlanta's Matt Bryant is 8-for-8 at the Georgia Dome. EDGE: EVEN

Intangibles: Ryan is 17-1 at the Georgia Dome, which is the best home record for any quarterback since 2008. The Falcons are averaging 30.7 points at home this season. The Ravens are 2-9 when playing indoors, giving up an average of 28.6 points in their past five games in a dome. The Falcons have committed the second-fewest penalties in the NFL. Atlanta is the more banged-up team. The Falcons could be without their leading tackler and starting center. Edge: FALCONS

Prediction: A long-time foundation of the team, the Ravens' run defense has been showing signs of cracking. Turner's power running will cause it to crumble even more. Luckily for the Ravens, there are not too many running backs of his caliber left on the schedule, which should set up a strong second-half run. FALCONS, 21-10

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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