Who has the edge?

Ravens offense (2002 ranking) Total (26) Rushing (16) Passing (27) <P> The Ravens want to become more explosive vertically. Personnel likely dictates a game plan similar to Kansas City Chiefs' model of leaning on running back Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez. Ravens' chief assets are running back Jamal Lewis and tight end Todd Heap.


Kyle Boller represents the physical prototype, but NFL puts a premium on savvy.

Running backs

Jamal Lewis rushed for 86 yards on 14 carries to end last season in Pittsburgh.


Travis Taylor is seeking that elusive 1,000-yard season. Marcus Robinson needs to contribute if Frank Sanders is unavailable.

Offensive line

Massive unit must fortify unproven right side.

Steelers offense (2002 ranking) Total (5) Rushing (9) Passing (7)

The Steelers don't like their offense being characterized as pass-oriented, but that's what their old smash-mouth approach has morphed into. Pittsburgh utilizes West Coast principles to move the football with a controlled passing game. Amos Zereoue it done with speed. Jerome Bettis isn't the focal point anymore.


Tommy Maddox has a gunslinger mentality, but reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year has Charlie Batch looking over his shoulder.

Running backs

Zereoue is a compact runner who excels at making defenders miss in open field.


Blends size (Plaxico Burress), shiftiness (Antwaan Randle El) and toughness (Hines Ward).

Offensive line

Major question mark because of injuries. Guard Alan Faneca is a Pro Bowler.

Quarterback edge: Steelers

Running back edge: Ravens

Receivers edge: Steelers

Offensive line edge: Ravens

Ravens defense (2002 ranking) Total (22) Rushing (13) Passing (26)

Ravens are in an attack mode with four mobile linebackers led by Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware. Secondary is active, ideally-sized, especially with Chris McAlister and Gary Baxter. Defensive line hasn't mounted much of a pass rush, but has been really stout against the run behind scrappy nose guard Kelly Gregg.

Defensive line

Slightly undersized unit gets it done with hustle, quickness and technique.

Linebackers Speed, tackling are the watch words for coach Mike Singletary's group.


Chemistry, ability are present, needs improved health for nickel and dime packages.

Steelers defense (2002 ranking) Total (7) Rushing (1) Passing (20)

Historically dominant against the run and sound in front seven, Pittsburgh has been vulnerable to the pass. The Steelers surrendered 345 points last year, an average of 21.6 per contest. No Steelers team had been shredded like that since the 1988 squad that gave up a franchise-record 421 points on its way to a 5-11 record. Defensive line

Casey Hampton acts as a human wall at nose guard.


Even without All-Pro Joey Porter, one of the top units in NFL sports Kendrell Bell, Jason Gildon and James Farrior.


Troy Polamalu and Mike Logan gave safety an influx of speed, but team should have upgraded at corner, too.

Defensive line edge: Steelers

Linebackers edge: Ravens

Secondary edge: Ravens

Ravens special teams

Draft picks and free agent dollars have been devoted to key part of team hoping a shaky preseason was an aberration. Kicker Matt Stover is their ace.

Steelers special teams

Antwaan Randle El is electric on returns. Kicker Jeff Reed and punter Josh Miller are capable specialists.

Special teams edge: Steelers

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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