Broncos v. Ravens Game Scout

The Denver Broncos' defensive strength is against the run, meaning Baltimore will have to rely on erratic QB Kyle Boller (in photo) to connect on a few shots downfield to help open the running lanes. The Broncos give 240.8 passing yards per game, but CBs Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams both have the ability to chance the course of a game with their play-making ability. Read our complete game preview.

================================
Baltimore Ravens (4-8) at Denver Broncos (9-3)
================================

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF:
Sunday, 4:15
ET GAMEDATE: 12/11/05
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Don Criqui, Steve Beuerlein
SERIES: Sixth meeting. The Ravens won the past four meetings, outscoring Denver 80-42. The Ravens beat the Broncos in the last meeting, routing them 26-6 in 2003. With the Ravens up by three points in the fourth quarter, linebacker Ray Lewis made a key interception in Ravens territory. The 20-point win over Denver was the largest for the Ravens in a one-sided series.
2005 RANKINGS: Ravens: offense 26th (22nd rush, 25th pass); defense 7th (13th rush, 7th pass). Broncos: offense 5th (2nd rush, 20th pass); defense 23rd (3rd rush, 29th pass)

PREDICTION: Broncos 26-17

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Ravens will need a few big plays on both sides of the ball in order to put a scare into the Broncos. Denver's defensive strength is against the run, meaning Baltimore will have to rely on erratic QB Kyle Boller to connect on a few shots downfield to help open the running lanes. The Broncos give 240.8 passing yards per game, but CBs Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams both have the ability to chance the course of a game with their play-making ability. So does Ravens S Ed Reed, who is Baltimore's defensive leader with MLB Ray Lewis out for the remainder of the season. The Ravens will stuff the box with eight defenders in an attempt to contain the run and force the game onto the arm of Broncos QB Jake Plummer. Plummer has thrown three interceptions over the past two games, but if RBs Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne are able to create short-yardage situations, Plummer won't be put in the position to make mistakes.

FAST FACTS: Ravens: Have lost their first six road games by an average of 13 points. They have a nine-game road losing streak overall. ... Coach Brian Billick is 4-0 against Denver coach Mike Shanahan. Broncos: Plummer is 17-3 at INVESCO Field. ... Bailey has an interception in four consecutive games.

PERSONNEL NEWS:
Ravens:

--LB Ray Lewis was placed on injured reserve Thursday, one day after having surgery on his hamstring. He will need two to three months to recover.
--QB Brian St. Pierre was signed to the active roster from the practice squad, filling Ray Lewis' roster spot. St. Pierre will be the Ravens' No. 3 quarterback.
--DE Tony Weaver will miss Sunday's game with a back injury, but coach Brian Billick said he expects Weaver to return this season.
--LB Zac Woodfin was signed to the Ravens' practice squad. A rookie out of Alabama-Birmingham, he had played with the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.
--OT Orlando Brown will not play Sunday after being downgraded to doubtful with a back injury. He will be replaced by Tony Pashos.
--G Keydrick Vincent did not practice Thursday after working out with the team Wednesday. He is questionable with a thigh injury.
--G Edwin Mulitalo practiced Thursday after missing the team's Wednesday workout. He is questionable with a knee injury.

Broncos:
--DE Courtney Brown returned to practice on Thursday. He is nursing a sore knee. Coach Mike Shanahan said he looked good in practice, and it appears Brown will be available for Sunday's game.
--CB Antwaun Rogers was signed to the Broncos' practice squad. Rogers is a rookie who played at Purdue.
--LB Keith Burns has practiced all week and should be ready to play against Baltimore this week. Burns missed last week's game against Kansas City with a knee injury.
--OT Cornell Green should be ready to return from a separated shoulder. The Broncos have an interesting decision to make if he is healthy. RT George Foster, with whom Green was rotating, is coming off his best game of the season, so the Broncos might not resume the rotation.
--LB Ian Gold has been a big asset to the Broncos in the run game this season. Gold is undersized for an outside linebacker, but he is tough and can run down just about any back in the league. He showed off his quickness when he stuffed Chiefs WR Dante Hall on a reverse last week.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Ravens:

Ed Reed played his first game in eight weeks last Sunday. But some are wondering when the Ravens safety will truly return.

Reed has yet to make an interception this season after enjoying a huge 2004 campaign, when he was named the NFL's defensive player of the year.

With the Ravens having no shot at the playoffs or a winning season, Reed has been forced to change his goals.

The last four games for Reed are about gaining wins and more information about himself.

"I wish I would have had more film," Reed said. "The film that I can get from this season on until the next is used so I can correct and get better for the years to come on how they're attacking me, where they're throwing the ball and things like that. That's what I've been noticing throughout the year; it's just a step off right now."

Reed returned to the lineup in Sunday's 16-15 win over the Houston Texans, stabilizing a secondary that was without two starters (safety Will Demps and cornerback Chris McAlister). Reed had missed the previous six games with a high ankle sprain, an injury that destroyed his bid to repeat as NFL Defensive Player of the Year and also might keep him out of the Pro Bowl.

This year would seemingly be a disappointing way to follow a season in which he led the league with nine interceptions, became the franchise's all-time leader in interceptions (21) and broke an NFL single-season record with 358 return yards off interceptions.

But Reed seemed more concerned with what will be than what could have been.

"The thing about being who we are as human beings, we're a victim of our own success," Reed said.

Early this season, teams stayed away from attacking the middle of the field, but Reed might get a dose of action Sunday against the Denver Broncos, especially since he is still shaking off the rust from his extended absence. Reed had four tackles against the Texans.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be being out for that long," said Reed, who is now teaming with Deion Sanders at safety. "I felt the rustiness in some of the things, but it wasn't to the point where I was like, 'Oh my goodness. Everything is too fast for me.' It was pretty much normal."

--The Ravens placed linebacker Ray Lewis on injured reserve and signed third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre from the practice squad. According to coach Brian Billick, initial reports indicate Lewis will need two to three months to recover from hamstring surgery, which would make him available for offseason workouts. "It looks very promising in that regard," Billick said.

--Defensive end Tony Weaver, who is doubtful with a back injury, might play again this season. Billick said earlier this week that there was a possibility Weaver might be placed on injured reserve. "It sounds like it maybe is not as serious and there is a reasonable chance he could be back," Billick said.

Broncos:
Denver Broncos safety John Lynch wasn't fined by the NFL for his hit on Chiefs receiver Eddie Kennison.

Lynch, who was penalized 15 yards Sunday for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Kennison, has been fined by the NFL four times since 2001 for improper use of his helmet. A league spokesman said the NFL wasn't admitting a blown call during the game, but only that the hit didn't deserve a fine.

"It's good news," Lynch said. "I'm obviously pleased with the league's assessment of the play."

Lynch was upset when the league fined him $75,000 last year for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark. Lynch flew to New York to appeal the fine in the offseason, but was unsuccessful.

"I think I'm due," Lynch said. "It gives me some faith in the process, that they're actually looking at things and the specifics of each situation."

On Monday, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan showed the media a freeze frame of the television replay of the hit, showing Lynch hit Kennison with his shoulder and not his helmet.

"It doesn't surprise me," Shanahan said about Lynch not getting fined.



Voice your opinion on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board

Mile High Huddle Top Stories