Ravens - Cowboys: Inside Slant

Have the Baltimore Ravens really changed their offensive philosophy and opened up their last-ranked passing game? The answers: no, and no. They have loosened up the training wheels on quarterback Kyle Boller, but haven't removed them completely. Boller remains a definite work in progress, but last week's comeback win over the New York Jets in overtime was a major step forward for the second-year quarterback.

However, Brian Billick said the team's profile of run-first with Jamal Lewis won't change dramatically, if at all. Lewis has been frustrated with his lack of effectiveness since returning from a two-game suspension. Now that he's possibly going to get offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden back in the lineup today, things could change. With Ogden in the lineup for five games, the Ravens have rushed for an average of 136.4 yards per contest, averaging four yards per carry. Without him, Baltimore has managed only 85.8 and 3.4.

Key matchup:RB Jamal Lewis vs. LB Dat Nguyen

Lewis has averaged only 3.68 and 2.37 yards per attempt since returning from his two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy. He'll look to get on track Sunday against Nguyen, a smaller, quick-striking middle linebacker.

How the Ravens can win: 1. Pressure 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde in an effort to contain a dangerous passing game. Testaverde has legitimate targets downfield in tight end Jason Witten and possession receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Given time, he has the arm, accuracy and experience to shred the secondary.

2. Get back to running the football effectively with Jamal Lewis, who has been bottled up by opponents and game plans since his two-game suspension ended.

3. Continue throwing the football to rookie Clarence Moore, especially when lined up against smallish former Ravens cornerback Lance Frazier, the Cowboys' fifth right cornerback this year.

When the Cowboys have the football

Vinny Testaverde is back in town, and even he admits that he has no idea what is the Cowboys' offensive identity. When asked if the one-time America's Team is a running or passing outfit, the former Ravens quarterback replied: "We don't know." With Terry Glenn out of the lineup, Dallas' best receiver is tight end Jason Witten. Witten leads the Cowboys with 54 catches for 621 yards and five touchdowns followed by Keyshawn "Just Give me the Damn Ball!" Johnson's 38 catches for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cowboys have attempted 229 running plays for 886 yards and seven touchdowns, with 297 passes for 2,331 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dallas has lost five of their past six games, losing four of those five by 16 points or more. Eddie George hasn't been a factor with 411 yards on 122 carries. Bill Parcells called his team stupid after a 26-3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and then blamed himself for the disconnect. Testaverde even lined up behind the left guard to take the snap in Monday's embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. People are saying the Cowboys played like desperate housewives, throwing in the towel not long after Nicollette Sheridan dropped her towel for Terrell Owens. George agreed with the stupid comment, saying he couldn't be offended by an accurate statement.

Key matchup: TE Jason Witten vs S Ed Reed

Witten is one of the most dynamic young tight ends in the league, and Reed is a blue-chip safety with an unmatched feel for the game.

How the Cowboys can win: 1. Attack the Ravens vertically with tight end Jason Witten, an emerging star who will have a significant size advantage against linebackers and safeties.

2. Take a shot and run Eddie George right at Ray Lewis. It worked in the Titans' playoff win last winter, and the Jets and Chiefs have employed that strategy with success this year. George is not nearly as fast as he was, but still has excellent power.

3. Lure the Ravens into a false sense of security with quarterback Kyle Boller, then pressure him heavily with defensive end Greg Ellis. Boller could potentially be overconfident based on last week's breakthrough game.

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

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