Ravens - Bills: Inside Slant

<b>When the Ravens have the football.<b><br><br> Expect the Ravens to remain true to their primary game plan: running the football. Just because Jamal Lewis is out for two weeks with a drug-related suspension doesn't affect the Baltimore offensive philosophy that much.

It merely becomes a committee approach to the ground attack based heavily on establishing Chester Taylor with Musa Smith in reserve. With Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap still ailing, the passing game won't and can't change dramatically. Especially with quarterback Kyle Boller's struggles with decision-making and fundamentals.

Key matchup

RB Chester Taylor vs. LBs London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes.

Taylor receives a stern test in his debut as the feature back against the stocky Fletcher and the quick-striking Spikes.

When the Bills have the football

Anticipate a lot of runs as new Bills coach Mike Mularkey is eager to stick with a formula that worked last week against the hapless Miami Dolphins. Willis McGahee is a promising young running back with the potential to unseat Travis Henry permanently. Drew Bledsoe-to-Eric Moulds is a solid, experienced tandem.

Although Mularkey was criticized by Bills owner Ralph Wilson for running a boring offense, he hasn't forgotten those gadget plays from his days as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator. Beware of the trick play, because Mularkey has a bunch at his disposal.

Key matchup

WR Eric Moulds vs. CB Chris McAlister

Moulds has a long history of embarrassing good cornerbacks with 532 career receptions for 7,533 yards and 43 touchdowns. A Pro Bowl selection last year, McAlister is eager to prove he's worth his $55 million contract.

How the Ravens can win

1. Avoid the costly turnover from quarterback Kyle Boller, and establish sound field position with the running game and capitalize with a string of Matt Stover field goals.

2. Bottle up running back Willis McGahee and pressure immobile quarterback Drew Bledsoe into mistakes.

3. Set up a return for shifty rookie B.J. Sams, score on defense or block a punt.

How the Bills can win

1. Pound the Ravens straight-ahead with Willis McGahee behind a physical offensive line.

2. Lure quarterback Kyle Boller into believing he has to throw by showing a blitz look and then backing out of it into coverage to intercept the football. The Bills are unlikely to pay Chester Taylor and Musa Smith the same respect they would to Jamal Lewis, so passing lanes could be tight.

3. Buy Drew Bledsoe enough time to pick apart the secondary a la Kansas City's Trent Green. Eric Moulds is his primary target downfield.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and ravensinsider.com


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