Ravens - Eagles: Inside Slant

When the Ravens have the football <br><br> Anticipate offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh being extremely cognizant of blitzes and stunts from innovative Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. The Eagles bring pressure from virtually everywhere, so expect some maximum protection packages. Plus, the best way to counteract pressure is to cut it off at the pass by establishing a running game with Chester Taylor.

Baltimore will look to protect quarterback Kyle Boller from dangerous situations with a series of swing passes, screens and safe slants. He has to utilize his hot routes, and deliver short passes adeptly. He's unlikely to throw deep very often because of the lack of confidence the coaching staff has demonstrated in him.

Boller directs the lowest-ranked passing game in the league and has thrown a grand total of six passes after halftime the last two games for one completion. Chester Taylor, Musa Smith, get ready for liftoff because Baltimore is going to have to run to make up for its ineffectual passing game.

Key matchup

OT Orlando Brown vs. DE Jevon Kearse

The last time they tangled was in January and Brown wound up with two personal fouls in the Ravens' playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans. Brown has vowed to not lose his temper and concentrate on blocking an ultra-athletic pass rusher who leads Philadelphia with four sacks.

How the Ravens can win

1. Keep quarterback Donovan McNabb from transforming a football game into a track meet with a series of bombs to big-play wideout Terrell Owens. Owens is particularly dangerous when McNabb is scrambling.

2. Score defensively with an opportunistic secondary, or on special teams with dangerous rookie return man B.J. Sams.

3. Capitalize on the Eagles' vulnerability against the run, especially by directing running backs Chester Taylor and Musa Smith toward a soft middle.

When the Eagles have the football

Expect them to not waste much time testing the middle of the Ravens' defense with burly reserve runner Dorsey Levens in the absence of injured star Brian Westbrook. Levens is heavier and slower than most backs who typically have success against Baltimore. Therefore, don't be shocked to see offensive coordinator Brad Childress attempt a series of designed roll-outs and waggles for Donovan McNabb, where he has the option to run or throw.

McNabb has already rushed for 70 yards and two touchdowns this season. Their primary objective, of course, is a staple of the West Coast offense: throw short to deep to set up vertical routes for Terrell Owens. Owens lines up everywhere: on the line, in the slot, even in the backfield to disguise his intentions and location to get him the football. For his part, Owens can run and he can take a hit. His imposing size is an extra weapon for the hottest pass-catch tandem in the NFL.

Key matchup

WR Terrell Owens vs. CB Chris McAlister

McAlister shut down a disinterested Owens last season when he was with the 49ers and Jeff Garcia. Can the $55 million cover guy duplicate that feat with Owens riding a wave of momentum with a quarterback he finally respects?

How the Eagles can win

1. Strike deep early and often with Donovan McNabb buying time with his scrambling to deliver accurate spirals to Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston and L.J. Smith.

2. Blitz fumble-prone quarterback Kyle Boller from a variety of angles to rattle a struggling second-year starter. Dare him to throw because he hasn't proven he can beat teams with his arm or his head.

3. Attack Baltimore on the edges with defensive end Jevon Kearse and safety Brian Dawkins to try to take advantage of the absence of All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden with a pulled hamstring.

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


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