Baltimore Ravens' scouting report

5 CRITICAL QUESTIONS 1. How lopsided will this game become? Although the Cleveland Browns only lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 15-14, in September as kicker Matt Stover booted a field goal with 20 seconds remaining, these two teams have gone in completely opposite directions heading into Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens (10-3) have won six of their past seven games, and the Browns (4-9) are coming off a 27-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers where they only rushed for 18 yards while allowing 528 yards of total offense.Baltimore is 5-1 at home this season, hasn't lost to Cleveland at home since 2002 and the Browns haven't scored more than 17 points in their seven previous trips here. Plus, the Browns are 0-5 in the division and the Ravens need this game to clinch a playoff berth and keep up their pursuit of home-field advantage in the playoffs. They should be sufficiently motivated. The Browns have the NFL's 29th-ranked defense and the 30th-ranked offense, two deficiencies that should be impossible to overcome.
2. How many times will Derek Anderson get sacked? The Ravens tend to thrive against pocket passers, and the 6-foot-6, 229-pound former Baltimore practice squad quarterback is extremely immobile. Baltimore sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger nine times, Browns starter Charlie Frye seven times and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green five times during last week's 20-10 victory. The Ravens are second in the NFL with 46 sacks, including 10 apiece from defensive end Trevor Pryce and outside linebacker Adalius Thomas with Bart Scott (8 1/2) and Terrell Suggs (seven) not far behind their torrid pace. The Browns' offensive line is down a couple starters, and the Ravens don't have to worry too much about a running game. Not with starter Reuben Droughns only rolling up five yards on six carries against the Steelers.
3. Can the Ravens contain Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards? These are the Browns' chief downfield threats, and both had an impact against Baltimore in their previous meeting. Winslow is battling nagging injuries, though, and only registered 19 yards against the Steelers. In the first meeting with the Ravens, they combined for 12 receptions and 208 yards. However, that was with Frye under center and he's unlikely to play today because of a bone bruise in his right wrist.
4. How many yards will Jamal Lewis gain? The Steelers gashed the Browns' defense for 303 yards on the ground, including 223 from Willie Parker on 32 carries. Without defensive end Orpheus Roye and inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, the Browns could have severe problems containing Lewis as well. He's no longer flashy, but the former Pro Bowl runner can wear down a defense through attrition.
5. Will Steve McNair stay on pace? With only two interceptions and eight touchdowns in the past seven games since Brian Billick assumed play-calling duties after firing Jim Fassel, McNair hasn't thrown an interception in his past 142 throws. The Browns' defense wasn't just abused on the ground in Pittsburgh. Their secondary couldn't stay with the Steelers' wideouts despite both of their starters being out. McNair should have plenty of time to throw. The Browns didn't generate a sack last week, and Baltimore hasn't given up one in three games. Rookie outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley represents the Browns' top play-making threat on defense.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
OFFENSE
Total (22) Rushing (27) Passing (15)
Quarterback
Steve McNair has emerged as an accurate, mistake-free passer with no interceptions in his past four games and none in his past 142 throws, a personal-best for his 12-year career.
Running backs
Jamal Lewis has been sick this week, but that should only affect his voice because of a sore throat, not his legs. He has gained more yards against the Browns than any other team and looks to continue that trend today.
Receivers
Between Derrick Mason (59 catches), Todd Heap (59) and Mark Clayton (57), the Ravens have at least two receivers with 50 or more catches for the first time since 1997 when Michael Jackson (69) and Derrick Alexander (65) led Baltimore. Mason and Clayton are on pace for 73 and 73 catches, which set a franchise record for a receiving duo.
Offensive line
The blockers haven't allowed a sack in three contests and are on pace to shatter the franchise record for the season with just 16 allowed so far. They need to open up more room for Jamal Lewis to run, though.
DEFENSE
Total (1) Rushing (2) Passing (6)
Defensive line
Pro Bowl voting will be released Tuesday. Will Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg and Terrell Suggs win the balloting? With his gritty approach, Gregg is a sentimental choice in the Ravens' locker room.
Linebackers
The Ravens' front office will have a tough decision to make on linebacker Adalius Thomas in the offseason when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and could command a bidding war. Thomas, Ray Lewis and Bart Scott are strong Pro Bowl candidates.
Secondary
Ed Reed finally played the defense the way it's drawn up and he was rewarded with two interceptions. Chris McAlister and Reed are likely to garner Pro Bowl consideration.
SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker Matt Stover has had a Pro Bowl season with 21 of 23 accuracy. Gary Stills might make it as a special-teams ace. Cory Ross struggled in his NFL debut as a return specialist, and will need to play much better during this stretch run.
OFFENSE
Total (29) Rushing (30) Passing (21)
Quarterback
Ravens castoff Derek Anderson has size, arm strength and decent accuracy. He just lacks experience and mobility, two shortcomings that could cost his team dearly today.
Running backs
What running game? They gained 18 yards last week on 11 carries. Reuben Droughns had five yards on six carries. That's absolutely pathetic.
Receivers
Tight end Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards have combined for 121 catches, 1,457 yards and eight touchdown catches. The formidable tandem comprises one of the top young receiving duos in the NFL. Joe Jurevicius is a solid possession receiver.
Offensive line
They have been decimated by injuries and personal problems, losing center LeCharles Bentley on the first day of practice and tackle Ryan Tucker to an undisclosed mental illness. They have allowed 44 sacks, and it could get ugly today.
DEFENSE
Total (30) Rushing (30) Passing (15)
Defensive line
A fairly nondescript group is hurting with massive nose guard Ted Washington banged-up. They don't have the personnel upfront to run coach Romeo Crennel's Patriots-inspired 3-4 scheme.
Linebackers
Andra Davis makes far too many tackles downfield. Former University of Maryland star D'Qwell Jackson is out for the year. Kamerion Wimbley is the rising star of this defense. Willie McGinest is on the downside of his career.
Secondary
Safeties Sean Jones and Brodney Pool have emerged as competent starters. Leigh Bodden is a promising cornerback, but Daven Holly can be picked on. Former Ravens starter Gary Baxter's career is in danger with two torn patellar tendons.
SPECIAL TEAMS
Phil Dawson remains a reliable kicker. Return man Josh Cribbs is averaging 25.6 yards on kickoffs with Dennis Northcutt averaging 11.6 yards on punts. Former Ravens punter Dave Zastudil is averaging 43.9 yards, including a long of 61.
EDGES: Quarterback: Ravens; Running back: Ravens; Receivers: Ravens; Offensive line: Ravens; Defensive line: Ravens; Linebackers; Ravens; Secondary: Ravens; Special teams: Even.
How the Ravens can win
1. Harass quarterback Derek Anderson. The former Ravens practice squad member is a virtual statue in the pocket, a 6-foot-6, 229-pound target with a bull's-eye on his chest, back and helmet.
2. Establish the run. The Browns allowed a staggering 528 yards of total offense to the Steelers last week, including 223 rushing yards by Willie Parker. Their front seven is ripe for Jamal Lewis to run roughshod over.
3. Contain Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. The Ravens have to respect the deep ball with these two dangerous skill players, particularly Edwards who beat Samari Rolle for a 74-yard touchdown pass in September.
How the Browns can win
1. Create turnovers. The Ravens' winning formula is based heavily on winning the turnover battle with a league-best plus-16 turnover ratio.
2. Protect Anderson. If Anderson has sufficient time to throw, he does a solid job of locating receivers downfield.
3. Make the Ravens respect the run. As bad as its defense was against Pittsburgh, Cleveland was even more terrible at running the ball with 18 rushing yards on 11 carries. If this happens again, the Ravens will just tee off on Anderson.
Browns Confidential
Three downs with ...
Romeo Crennel
Browns head coach
1. On former Ravens QB Derek Anderson: "There's an element of surprise there because when you get a guy off the street, you don't know exactly what you are getting. We did have a little knowledge because Phil Savage had a background with him and knew of his abilities."
2. On dealing with losing: "We've made some progress and I try to stress that to the team and to the writers. The first time we played Baltimore was one we could have won. We played Pittsburgh here and that was another one we could have won. If we could have won those two, people would be feeling better about the team. There's a lot of work that we still need to do."
3. On locker room turmoil: "The turmoil in the locker room, a lot of it is a result of not being able to win games and some of it is a result of having young guys who tend to show their emotions rather than handle their emotions. It's a matter of educating those guys about what it takes to be a professional in the NFL and how you should play the game. Young kids are going to be young kids until you teach them and educate them."
Ravens Confidential
Three downs with ...
Bart Scott
Ravens linebacker
1. On respecting the Browns: "Last year we were 6-10 and we haven't earned the right until we put some winning seasons together to overlook or talk about anybody. They're an NFL team. They beat Kansas City and they are a good team. They did play us so close and that game could have gone either way. We had to pull out magic Matt Stover to pull that one off. I'm sure that will be a renewed confidence for them."
2. On the effect of playoff scenarios on focus: "You can't lie as a player. You are aware of it. The biggest part of that equation is winning the last three games. You can think, ‘What if this team loses? What if that team loses?' But if you lose, then it kills everything. We've just got to handle our business. We need a little help, but that help is going to be negated unless we take care of our business."
3. On comparing Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson: "That's like oil and vinegar. They are really totally polar opposites. You've got one guy who is the Bledsoesque type of guy and then you've got the white Michael Vick out there. I've seen guys, ourselves included last year who Frye made some of us miss twice. He's a pretty athletic guy in that regard."
Inside slant
The NFL's top-ranked defense is allowing only 268.1 yards per contest. They are second in rushing defense (80.9 yards), first in points allowed (170), with two TDs given up in the past 15 quarters and 27 sacks in the past seven games. They lead the NFL with a plus-16 turnover margin, including a league-best 22 interceptions and four returned for touchdowns.
TODAY'S KEY MATCHUPS
Ravens S Ed Reed vs. Browns TE Kellen Winslow Two brash former University of Miami stars face off in a pivotal open-field encounter. Reed has the edge in experience and smarts. Winslow is a big, gifted athlete still maturing emotionally. Reed is coming off his biggest game of 2006.
Ravens RB Jamal Lewis vs. Browns MLB Andra Davis
Lewis has rushed for 1,415 yards against Cleveland, more than any other NFL team, including a record 295-yard day in 2003 gained largely against Davis, his close friend. Davis is a stay-at-home physical tackler.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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