Ravens (2-3) at Bears (2-3)
Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
RB Jamal Lewis: Lewis is long on excuses -- ankle surgery, prison, no new contract, poor blocking, lack of rhythm -- but short on yards. He ranks 27th in the NFL with 292 rushing yards -- just ahead of Michael Vick and Kevan Barlow. Yuck. The Ravens are determined to get Lewis going, and they'll force-feed him the ball 20 times a game or more to make it happen. But it won't matter much against a Chicago defense that ranks fourth against the run (86.4 ypg), hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 1 (Clinton Portis) and hasn't given up a rushing TD this season. Lewis will fall short of the 100-yard mark for the sixth time in six games this season, though he's always a threat to score. Rating: 2 out of 5.
RB Chester Taylor: Taylor remains the most explosive player in the Ravens backfield, as evidenced by his100-yard effort (92 rushing, 8 receiving) against the Browns last week. Problem is, there's no telling how many touches he'll get -- his 12 in Week 6 were a season high – so it's hard to start him with any confidence. Taylor's a solid RB3/flex option when the matchup is favorable, which it isn't this week. He should be starting, but the Ravens say they're sticking with Jamal. Rating: 1 out of 5.
QB Anthony Wright: Wright looked sharp at times last week, throwing crisp timing routes to Derrick Mason and getting Todd Heap involved in the offense for a change. But the Bears defense isn't kind to quarterbacks either, ranking third in the league with 10 interceptions. Wright has thrown at least one pick in 12 of his 13 games as a Raven, including all five games this season. Rating: 1 out of 5.
WR Derrick Mason: Where would the Ravens be without the dependable Mason, who was perfect in Week 6 -- eight balls thrown in his directions, eight catches for 85 yards. It marked the best outing for Mason since he went for 8-99 in Week 1, but he still didn't get in the end zone. That could change this week -- Mason hasn't gone four games without a TD catch since Weeks 7-12 of the 2003 season. Rating: 3 out of 5.
WR Mark Clayton: The Ravens seemed intent on getting their No. 2 target involved last week. Clayton was on the receiving end of a quick-hitting pass in the flat for 9 yards, and he also got into the end zone on a direct snap and run from the 15-yard line, though that play was wiped out by a holding penalty. The Ravens commitment to Clayton is encouraging; his sprained ankle is not. Rating: 0 out of 5.
TE Todd Heap: Heap checked in with six grabs for 79 yards (both season highs) and a score last week, but he won't repeat those numbers against the Bears. Where the Browns laid back and opted not to blitz, Chicago will attack with NFC sack leader Brian Urlacher and company, meaning Heap will need to stay in and block. That will put a dent in his stat line -- look for four catches and 45 yards or so. Rating: 3 out of 5.
PK Matt Stover: Stover has been perfect (7-for-7) since missing three field goals in the opener, and he should get at least a couple more chances in what figures to be a low-scoring game. The Bears have allowed seven FGs, tied for fifth-fewest in the league. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Ravens defense: The Ravens put together their most complete defensive effort of the season last week, forcing Browns QB Trent Dilfer into three turnovers and sacking him four times. But this is a different defense on the road -- in their past five road games dating to last season, the Ravens have allowed 124 points (24.8 ppg) while totaling three sacks and forcing four turnovers.
Baltimore should improve on those numbers against Bears rookie QB Kyle Orton, who has shown surprising poise but also has a penchant for turning the ball over or holding onto it too long. In five games, he's been sacked 12 times, thrown seven interceptions and fumbled six times, losing three. Orton can put it up if necessary -- he threw for more than 3,000 yards as a senior at Purdue last season -- but has yet to top 150 yards this season. Muhsin Muhammad, who led the NFL with 1,405 receiving yards last season, is Orton's favorite target (27 catches, 298 yards), but he gets a tough matchup against Ravens corners Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle.
Chicago wants to run the ball with Thomas Jones, who ranks seventh in the league with 502 rushing yards and averages 4.6 yards per carry. With six rushing touchdowns, Jones trails only Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson and Stephen Davis in that category. But the Bears have yet to face a top-10 run defense, and the Ravens (ranked No. 7) take particular pleasure in stuffing the run. They'll put eight men in the box to contain Jones and make Orton beat them. Rating: 5 out of 5.
Ravens: OUT: QB Kyle Boller (toe); DE Anthony Weaver (toe). DOUBTFUL: S Ed Reed (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: WR Mark Clayton (ankle); RB Ovie Mughelli (ankle); RB Alan Ricard (calf). PROBABLE: C Mike Flynn (ankle/toe); LB Ray Lewis (thigh).
Bears: OUT: QB Rex Grossman (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: G Ruben Brown (chest); P Brad Maynard (calf); T John Tait (ankle). PROBABLE: RB Thomas Jones (knee).