Inside Slant: Ravens against. Rams

Key matchups and what to look for when each team has the ball.

When the Ravens have the football

Watch how often Baltimore pounds the football directly at undersized defensive end Grant Wistrom. The 6-foot-9, 340-pound All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden has at least a 70-pound advantage on Wistrom, a high-effort player who may be too small to wrangle with Ogden. Plus, this is the Ravens' favorite direction to establish Jamal Lewis with beefy offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo operating on the left side.

Key matchup

FB Alan Ricard vs. MLB Robert Thomas. Thomas carries the soft label, and Ricard should be able to clear room for Jamal Lewis on isolation plays in vicinity of Rams' undersized middle linebacker.

When the Rams have the football

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will attempt to match wits with Mad Mike, A.K.A. Rams offensive wizard/head coach Mike Martz. That requires creating enough pass rush with blitzes while flooding the zone to try to pick off quarterback Marc Bulger's passes. It's a high-wire act that means gambling without hitting snake-eyes.

Key matchup
CB Chris McAlister vs. WR Torry Holt. McAlister will have to do more than grab Holt's jersey. He'll need to match Holt's agility and speed on vertical and intermediate routes to avoid penalties and keep the leading receiver in the league out of the end zone.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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