Ravens (2-6) at Jaguars (5-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m.
RB Jamal Lewis: Tired of piling on Lewis, I offer up this comparison to show that, hey, it's not all Jamal's fault. Lewis has gained 436 yards on 145 carries (3.0) yards per carry; Carolina's Stephen Davis has gained 406 yards on 133 carries (3.1). Yet Davis has run for 11 TDs to Lewis' one. The point? Not sure, but I know I'd rather have Davis than Lewis, whose being swept up in the stink wave of the Ravens offense. Still, one of these days, he's going to score another touchdown, and the Ravens will be sorry they didn't give him a new contract. One of these days - but not this week against a Jacksonville defense that has given up three rushing scores all season. Rating: 2 out of 5.
RB Chester Taylor: I'd keep beating he drum for Taylor, because let's be honest - how much worse than Lewis can he be? But his 13 carries for 39 yards over the past three games don't exactly inspire confidence. Nor does his inexplicably miniscule role in the offense. Rating: 1 out of 5.
QB Kyle Boller: My level of excitement upon hearing that Boller would be back this week? Roughly equivalent to my excitement about turning back the clocks. Woo. Hoo. Even at his best, Boller isn't much of a fantasy factor, and Brian Billick suggested Boller could be rusty at first. Plus, Jacksonville ranks third in pass defense. Expect a stat line that looks suspiciously similar to something Anthony Wright might put up - 170 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions. Rating: 1 out of 5.
WR Derrick Mason: Mason and Anthony Wright had a good thing going, but Mason hasn't had much of a chance to play with Boller. That could knock the Ravens No. 1 wideout down a notch, though he's still a safe bet for six catches and 75 yards. Whether he gets into the end zone for the first time since Week 2 - well, that's a different story. Rating: 2 out of 5.
WR Mark Clayton: Over-under on passes thrown in Clayton's direction: two. Unless one of them is an 80-yard touchdown strike, he's not worth having in the lineup. Rating: 0 out of 5.
TE Todd Heap: Heap has nine catches in his past two games, but he's averaging just 7.3 yards per catch in that span. The Ravens have to find a way to get their big TE down the field and into the end zone. He stands a fair chance of doing both against Jacksonville's average linebackers. Rating: 3 out of 5.
PK Matt Stover: The Jags don't give up many field goals - nine in eight games - but they have yet to face a team as field-goal happy as the Ravens. Stover is averaging three three-pointers per game in his past four outings. He gets at least two this week. Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ravens defense: The Ravens will be without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed for the third game in a row, but the story has been the same with or without Reed and Lewis - this defense just isn't disruptive. Baltimore ranks in the bottom half of the league in sacks with 18, and its nine takeaways are the fifth-fewest in the NFL. The Ravens don't give up a bunch of points, but they also don't do the things that make fantasy owners happy. Terrell Suggs was a nonfactor last week vs. the Bengals - that needs to change.
The good news for the Ravens is they're facing a Jacksonville team that is solid but unspectacular on offense. QB Byron Leftwich is averaging 204.5 yards per game with 11 TDs and five interceptions - truly average - but he has tossed at least one scoring pass in seven of eight games. Most of his throws go to Jimmy Smith (29 catches, 483, 4 TDs), who has averaged better than 100 yards in 14 career games against the Ravens with 10 TDs. But those numbers are more or less meaningless, having come when the Ravens and Jaguars were divisional rivals. A more telling stat - Smith has just 12 catches for 154 yards and no scores in his past four games. The Jags best WR of late has been Ernest Wilford (10-234-1 in his past two games).
With injury prone RB Fred Taylor (ankle) doubtful, the Jaguars will turn to Greg Jones, who will be spelled on occasion by Alvin Pearman. It doesn't appear to be a great matchup for Jones against the Ravens' No. 2-ranked defense, but he did put up 77 yards and a TD on 18 carries in a spot start against the Steelers in Week 6. If Jacksonville sticks with the running game, expect a similar output. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Ravens: OUT: LB Ray Lewis (thigh); S Ed Reed (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: CB Dale Carter (thigh); LB Terrell Suggs (thigh); S B.J. Ward (thigh); TE Daniel Wilcox (neck). PROBABLE: RB Ovie Mughelli (ankle).
Jaguars: DOUBTFUL: RB Fred Taylor (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: WR Cortez Hankton (hamstring). PROBABLE: S Deke Cooper (shoulder); C Brad Meester (knee); DT Marcus Stroud (ankle).