Ravens - Bengals: Inside slant

When the Ravens have the football: Expect the offensive coaching staff to heed the whispers heard throughout their training complex all week and run the football a lot more. They only attempted 20 runs against the New England Patriots. That lack of commitment to the running game kept the defense on the field too long and put too much pressure on young quarterback Kyle Boller.

He wasn't up to the task at all. He threw 35 passes last week, but only completed 15 of them for 93 yards and no touchdowns with an interception. That won't get the job done, especially against the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Bengals rank 30th in the league against the run. Even without Jamal Lewis in the lineup, it's clear what the strategy should be: Run the football consistently with Chester Taylor, Alan Ricard and Jamel White. Wear down Cincinnati's smaller defensive line with the Ravens' superior bulk. The Ravens have gotten away from their roots as a running team, and it's time for them to remember who they are. Otherwise, the problems will continue.

Key matchup: WR Clarence Moore vs. CB Deltha O'Neal

The 6-foot-6 Moore has an intriguing mismatch of size when lined across from O'Neal, generously listed at 5-11. Watch for the fade route in the red zone.

How the Ravens can win
1. Capitalize on first-year quarterback Carson Palmer's lack of experience and tendency to rely too much on his arm strength by squeezing the field and forcing him into mistakes.

2. Avoid cornerback Tory James, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions, along with fumbles by quarterback Kyle Boller. He leads the NFL with six lost this season.

3. Contain receiver Chad Johnson. He leads the Bengals with 65 catches for 910 yards and four touchdowns and a has a penchant for acrobatics. In seven games against Baltimore, he has caught 29 passes for 460 yards and three touchdowns.

When the Bengals have the football: Expect them to try to mix up the run and the pass well. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski is a sharp guy, and he'll have a good game plan prepared for this one in all likelihood. In last week's 58-48 win over the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati gained 504 yards of total offense and 26 first downs. Rudi Johnson piled up 202 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

Quarterback Carson Palmer has become more of a complementary part, although they're still throwing the football a lot. They have to be more careful with him because he leads the NFL with 16 interceptions. Johnson's physical presence can't be ignored. He's likely to be heavily utilized, especially with Baltimore looking vulnerable against hard-nosed runners this season such as Corey Dillon, Curtis Martin, Priest Holmes and Johnson.

Key matchup: WR Chad Johnson vs. CB Chris McAlister

A pairing of two of the NFL's best athletes. Johnson is also one of the league's most demonstrative, creative players. If he's having a good game against McAlister, he'll definitely let him and the crowd hear about it.

How the Bengals can win

1. Force the Ravens into a shootout, a mode of football they would be entirely uncomfortable and fundamentally unsuited for.

2. Run downhill with Rudi Johnson, right at linebacker Ray Lewis with impunity. Keep feeding him the football for 30 to 40 carries.

3. Exploit Kyle Boller's lack of patience in the pocket with disguised zone coverages.

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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