Five keys to the game

Five keys to the game <P> 1. In a classic encounter centered around clashing running games, the Ravens will attempt to deter a familiar face in Chiefs running back Priest Holmes while establishing their own rushing offense behind Jamal Lewis, Holmes' replacement.

As middle linebacker Ray Lewis pointed out, something has to give as the Ravens play the undefeated Chiefs. While Baltimore attempts to keep Holmes sandwiched between the tackles, they have to be extremely cautious in how they attempt to corral him. Holmes is so shifty that it's difficult to get a clean shot on him. It's imperative that they wrap up and not attempt to arm-tackle him. Holmes is way too strong for that.

2. Beyond keeping Holmes bottled up, the Ravens' best defense could be an offense centered around controlling the clock and moving the chains with Lewis. He is the NFL rushing leader for a reason. He's capable of beating defenders to the perimeter and rugged enough to create his own yards inside even when there doesn't appear to be a seam to run through. He could keep Holmes waiting and watching from the sidelines, too, as Baltimore attempts to control time of possession and score points.

3. In general, the Chiefs' offense is explosive and the Ravens can't get so caught up in attempting to contain Holmes that they ignore the abilities of tight end Tony Gonzalez and receivers Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison. It's critical that Terrell Suggs, Peter Boulware and Adalius Thomas generate some pressure on Trent Green. Green has a well-practiced mental clock as far as knowing how much time he has to throw behind a terrific offensive line.

4. Baltimore has to avoid giving dynamic Chiefs return specialist Dante Hall too much time or room to operate. He leads the NFL in kick return average and ranks second in punt returns behind Atlanta's Allen Rossum. He's the only player to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown this fall.

5. The Ravens need to continue last week's positive trend of fumbling only once with one interception and a lot less penalties.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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