Who has the edge? Ravens vs. Bengals

<p>Ravens offense: Total (22) Rushing (2) Passing (32)<br> Behind steady quarterback Anthony Wright in the last two weeks, Baltimore has generated the type of offensive balance unseen in these parts in years. If the Ravens continue this profile and keep defenses honest, it might open up their playbook to allow running back Jamal Lewis more room to operate.</p>

Also, Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap could be incorporated more into the offense if the Bengals roll their coverage toward emerging deep threat Marcus Robinson.

Quarterback: This has been a heady week of publicity for Anthony Wright. He's the Ravens' man of the moment under center.
Running backs: Jamal Lewis has rushed for 807 of his 1,442 yards at M&T Bank Stadium.
Receivers: Quietly, Travis Taylor and Frank Sanders are moving the chains while Marcus Robinson has emerged as the main go-to guy vertically. 
Offensive line: Blockers are doing a better job of pass protection, sealing off backside pursuit adeptly.

Bengals offense: Total (7) Rushing (12) Passing (10)
This might be the most proportional offense in the AFC North. The Bengals combine the high-wire act of deep routes to Chad Johnson and safe, intermediate passes Jon Kitna regularly completes to Peter Warrick and tight end Matt Schobel. Plus, the Bengals have a gritty running game with Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson. Cincinnati is 4-0 when it scores first, 5-0 when it leads after three quarters, 4-0 with a plus turnover differential and 0-1 on artificial turf. M&T Bank Stadium uses an artificial surface called the Momentum Turf System.
Quarterback: Jon Kitna was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month and has an outside chance at the Pro Bowl with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. 
Running backs: Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson aren't exactly a two-headed monster, but do qualify as a fairly formidable duo.
Receivers: Chad Johnson has caught 19 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns in five games against Baltimore. 
Offensive line: Talented unit where Bengals' shaky personnel department has drafted well, acquiring tackles Willie Anderson and Levi Jones and rookie guard Eric Steinbach

Quarterback edge: Bengals
Running back edge: Ravens
Receivers edge: Bengals
Offensive line edge: Even


Ravens defense: Total (4) Rushing (10) Passing (6)
The Ravens' 3-4 defensive alignment is built around linebacker Ray Lewis roaming free to make tackles. He was credited with 19 a week ago, including 16 solos, and returned an interception for a touchdown. Baltimore ranks third in the league on third-down conversions, allowing first downs only 30.5 percent of the time: 54-of-177. The Ravens lead the AFC and are third in the NFL on fourth down, stopping conversion attempts 73.7 percent of the time. The Ravens rank second in the AFC in sacks with 32 and are tied for second in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons behind the New York Giants' team total of 34 sacks. Only Miami's Ricky Williams and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson have rushed for 100 yards against Baltimore this season.
Defensive line: The return of left end Tony Weaver from a neck injury is a plus. He had two sacks against the Bengals in the first meeting.
Linebackers: Speed is the watch word for a unit featuring perennial All-Pro Ray Lewis and coached by Mike Singletary.
Secondary: The cornerback tandem of Chris McAlister and Gary Baxter is 3-1 this fall.

Bengals defense: Total (22T) Rushing (18) Passing (24)
Former Baltimore defensive coordinator and Finksburg resident Marvin Lewis is getting the job done with smoke and mirrors because he doesn't have outstanding personnel. Cincinnati gives up 334.6 yards per contest and opponents have converted 9-of-12 fourth-down tries. The Bengals' top pass rusher is Duane Clemons with six sacks. Linebacker Brian Simmons might be Lewis' best and most consistent all-around defender. Kevin Hardy is on the downside of his career. Cornerback Tory James is essentially the only playmaker in a below-average secondary that features such household names as Rogers Beckett, Artrell Hawkins, Mark Roman and Kevin Kaesviharn
Defensive line: Defensive end Justin Smith has a motor, but looks like he's running in place when he tries to bull-rush All-Pro Jonathan Ogden.
Linebackers: They still miss Takeo Spikes' energy and muscle.
Secondary: A full assortment of retreads, plus Kevin Kaesviharn from Augustana, that South Dakota football powerhouse.

Defensive line edge: Ravens
Linebackers edge: Ravens
Secondary edge: Ravens


Ravens special teams
Draft picks and free agent dollars and it's paying off. Kicker Matt Stover is this group's ace.

Bengals special teams
Solid in return game with Peter Warrick and Brandon Bennett and kicking game behind former Baltimore punter Kyle Richardson and placekicker Shayne Graham.

Special teams edge: Ravens

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.



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