Who has the edge between Ravens and Broncos?

Ravens offense <P> Total (20) Rushing (1) Passing (31) <P> The Ravens have integrated their playbook to include some vertical elements.

However, their strength remains the same: running the football behind league leader Jamal Lewis. Any major deviation from that game plan is likely going to decrease Lewis' production and increase the chances for rookie quarterback Kyle Boller to absorb contact to his sprained left, non-throwing shoulder. It's a fine line for Ravens coach Brian Billick and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh to walk. Broncos defensive linemen Bert Berry, Trevor Pryce and Reggie Hayward have combined for 15.5 sacks.


Kyle Boller regressed in terms of ball security last week, but posted career-high numbers in aborted comeback attempt.

Running backs

Jamal Lewis has 109 more rushing yards than Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green, the second-leading rusher who has played one more game.


Will Travis Taylor continue his past trend of following good performances with subpar ones? When will Baltimore get some production out of Frank Sanders and Marcus Robinson?

Offensive line

It's extremely important for blockers to get to second level to cut off Broncos' speedy linebackers.

Broncos offense

Total (12) Rushing (3) Passing (20)

The Broncos have the personnel for a top passing offense, but lack the arm at quarterback because of injuries to capitalize on the wealth outside. That leaves the bulk of the work for running backs Clinton Portis and Mike Anderson, who represent a nice contrast of speed and power. Tight end Shannon Sharpe and receivers Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie comprise one of the league's top units. Ed McCaffrey is questionable. The offensive line is normally a stalwart group coached by Alex Gibbs, one of the NFL's best assistants. Of late, they have faltered, allowing 14 sacks for the season. Danny Kanell needs time to throw, but may not get it this week. This is one of the few times the Baltimore defensive line won't be outweighed by their opponent's blockers.


Danny Kanell was last spotted in the Arena Football League with the New York Dragons until injuries to Jake Plummer and Steve Beuerlein. The Ravens will aim to put Kanell back in the NFL witness protection program.

Running backs

Clinton Portis is supremely confident and a constant threat to break past the perimeter.


Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe and Ashley Lelie are the primary targets and they are quite capable.

Offensive line

Injuries have reduced their prior effectiveness.

Quarterback edge: Even

Running back edge: Ravens

Receivers edge: Broncos

Offensive line edge: Ravens

Ravens defense

Total (9) Rushing (10) Passing (17)

Mike Nolan's schemes have worked well thus far. However, the Ravens are allowing more points than they have since the beginning of the 1997 campaign. Baltimore has surrendered 126 points and rank 18th in the NFL in points allowed. Short fields created by turnovers have hindered the defensive effort overall. Denver ranks seventh in the league in scoring. Run defense has been stout all season, giving up just 3.5 yards per carry.

Defensive line

Marques Douglas and Kelly Gregg are hustling their way into opposing backfields.


Peter Boulware and Ray Lewis are hungry for a few impact plays.


One week after Jon Kitna, here comes Danny Kanell and perhaps a chance to pick off some passes.

Broncos defense

Total (4) Rushing (9) Passing (6)

New defensive coordinator Larry Coyer is an old-school, fire and brimstone football coach who seems to have gotten the Broncos to buy into his scheme and aggressive approach. Denver is more focused on quickness than bulk and has generated a consistent pass rush. Its best defensive lineman is left end Trevor Pryce. Its best linebacker is middle linebacker Al Wilson in the wake of Ian Gold's season-ending injury. Strong safety Kenoy Kennedy is a hitter, and cornerback Lenny Walls stands 6-foot-4, 192 pounds.

Defensive line

Pryce already has five sacks for 38 yards of losses


John Mobley is undersized, but gets by with cerebral approach, speed.


Deltha O'Neal has been benched, which upgrades play immediately.

Defensive line edge: Broncos

Linebackers edge: Ravens

Secondary edge: Ravens

Ravens special teams

Return game has been fairly silent while kicking of Matt Stover, Wade Richey and Dave Zastudil remains steady

Broncos special teams

Denver has an elite kicker in Jason Elam and an emerging punter in Micah Knorr

Special teams edge: Even

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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