BRONCOS AT RAVENS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BREAK DOWN

Records

Broncos 3-0

Ravens 0-2

Line

Broncos by 7

Vs. spread

Broncos 2-1

Ravens 0-2

Series

Tied 1-1

Last meeting

Ravens won, 20-13, on Sept. 30, 2001, in Denver.

NFL rankings

Broncos offense: Rush (5), pass (30), overall (19).

Ravens defense: Rush, (18), pass (4), overall (6).

Ravens offense: Rush (30), pass (23), overall (29).

Broncos defense: Rush (1), pass (26), overall (11).

Quick hits

In three games, Broncos QB Brian Griese has completed 16 of 19 fourth-quarter passes for 165 yards. He also has thrown a TD pass in 18 consecutive games.

The Ravens haven't forced a turnover but have allowed a punt return and an interception return for a TD.

Injuries

BRONCOS: Questionable: T Matt Lepsis (hamstring). Probable: LB Keith Burns (hand/hamstring); G Lennie Friedman (thumb); RB Olandis Gary (ankle); QB Brian Griese (ankle); C Tom Nalen (knee); T Ephraim Salaam (ankle).

RAVENS: Questionable: RB Sam Gash (thigh); WR Brandon Stokley (ankle). Probable: TE Terry Jones (hand); RB Jamal Lewis (ribs); CB James Trapp (chest).

STARTING LINEUPS

Ravens offense

WR 80 Brandon Stokley

LT 75 Jonathan Ogden

LG 64 Edwin Mulitalo

C 62 Mike Flynn

RG 66 Bennie Anderson

RT 77 Ethan Brooks

TE 86 Todd Heap

WR 89 Travis Taylor

QB 7 Chris Redman

FB 39 Alan Ricard

RB 31 Jamal Lewis

Broncos defense

LE 93 Trevor Pryce

LT 94 Lional Dalton

RT 91 Chester McGlockton

RE 95 Kavika Pittman

WLB 52 Ian Gold

MLB 56 Al Wilson

SLB 51 John Mobley

LCB 24 Deltha O'Neal

RCB 25 Denard Walker

SS 28 Kenoy Kennedy

FS 43 Izell Reese

Broncos offense

WR 80 Rod Smith

LT 74 Ephraim Salaam

LG 50 Ben Hamilton

C 66 Tom Nalen

RG 62 Dan Neil

RT 78 Matt Lepsis

TE 84 Shannon Sharpe

WR 87 Ed McCaffrey

QB 14 Brian Griese

RB 22 Olandis Gary

FB 38 Mike Anderson

Ravens defense

LE 98 Tony Weaver

NT 97 Kelly Gregg

RE 99 Michael McCrary

OLB 90 Cornell Brown

ILB 56 Ed Hartwell

ILB 52 Ray Lewis

OLB 58 Peter Boulware

CB 21 Chris McAlister

CB 24 Alvin Porter

SS 42 Anthony Mitchell

FS 20 Ed Reed

SCOUTING REPORT

Ravens run offense vs. Broncos run defense

EVEN

The Ravens believe they can win by dominating this matchup. The interior of the Ravens' line has to move Denver defensive tackles Chester McGlockton and Lional Dalton. If running back Jamal Lewis has a head of steam going against the Broncos' undersized linebackers, the Ravens could control the clock and open up the passing game. But Lewis has yet to get into a rhythm this season, and the Broncos have the NFL's No. 1 run defense because of their front seven's quick pursuit. Still, few offenses will test Denver's run defense like the Ravens.

Key stat: 2.1 Yards per carry allowed by the Broncos' run defense if you take away a 31-yard run by San Francisco's Kevan Barlow and a 15-yard dash by St. Louis' Marshall Faulk.

Ravens pass offense vs. Broncos pass defense

BRONCOS

The Broncos will play the same soft cover-two defense that the Buccaneers used in containing the Ravens in Week 2. The Ravens have to be patient in chipping away with underneath routes and throwing short to Lewis. But quarterback Chris Redman can't get complacent and has to capitalize on the few chances to go deep. With receivers Brandon Stokley (ankle) and Travis Taylor (shoulder) banged up, tight end Todd Heap could be a focal point. Stokley is likely to play but whether he starts is a game-time decision. Denver has allowed quarterbacks to hit 72.9 percent of their passes but for only 9.3 yards per completion. The Ravens might try to surprise Denver with a few trick plays.

Key stat: 3. Team-leading sacks by Broncos left end Trevor Pryce, who goes against the Ravens' new starting right tackle, Ethan Brooks.

Broncos run offense vs. Ravens run defense

BRONCOS

The Ravens are an enigma here so far, looking out of sync against Carolina and then shutting down the more talented backs of Tampa Bay. The Broncos can come in waves with running backs Clinton Portis, Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary. Denver is producing 156 yards rushing per game, the fifth-best average in the NFL. The trouble for the Ravens is handling the Broncos' technique-driven offensive line, which shoots low to get defenders on the ground and create cutback lanes.

Key stat: 1. Rushing touchdowns allowed by the Ravens in their past five home games.

Broncos pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense

BRONCOS

Denver has talented targets in receivers Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey and tight end Shannon Sharpe. Quarterback Brian Griese is effective when playing with a lead. Although the Ravens will have trouble matching up with all the weapons, their pass defense will continue to play it safe by giving a lot of cushion but no big plays. The Ravens are surrendering just 162.5 passing yards per game, fifth best in the league. Denver's vulnerability is in pass protection, where Griese has been sacked 12 times on 89 drop-backs (once every 7.4 pass attempts).

Key stat: 18. Consecutive games with a touchdown pass by Griese, the league's best current streak.

Special teams

BRONCOS

Denver ranks in the top eight in covering punts and kickoffs. The Broncos' Tom Rouen is averaging 43.2 yards per punt, and Jason Elam has hit 21 straight field-goal attempts of 42 yards or less. The Ravens are struggling in the battle to win field position and allowed a punt to be returned 56 yards for a touchdown in Week 2. The Ravens' return game is in flux with Chris McAlister and Jeff Ogden rotating on punts and Robert Tate fielding kickoffs for now.

Key stat: 16.4. League-low kickoff return average by the Ravens.

Intangibles

BRONCOS

The Broncos are looking to use Monday Night Football as a platform for validating their Super Bowl aspirations. Plus, losing to the Ravens in each of the past two seasons makes a letdown unlikely. The Ravens should be wide-eyed with a youth-filled roster playing its first nationally televised game.

Prediction

BRONCOS

The Ravens will keep this game closer than expected by showing some punch behind the running of Lewis. But they will not be able to outlast a heavyweight like Denver. Late mistakes by the young Ravens will allow the Broncos to escape just past midnight with a 17-13 victory.

INSIDE SLANT

George Kokinis, the Ravens' assistant director of player personnel, sizes up the Broncos:

Strength

Linebackers. It's a really fast, relentless group that gang-tackles. Al Wilson and Ian Gold play with high emotion and are live wires. Gold has great acceleration to the quarterback. Wilson has good instincts and is explosive on contact, in and out of blocks. John Mobley is more of the grandfather of the group with steady production.

Key matchup

Ravens cornerback Alvin Porter vs. Broncos receivers Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey. Smith is strongest after the catch, sometimes dragging defenders 10 to 15 yards. McCaffrey is simply tough. He takes shots every game and comes back. He takes hits and holds onto the ball. He's an animal.

Play to watch

I Left Slot, Naked Right. It's a misdirection play in which the Broncos have two receivers split wide right but fake running left. Starting in an I-formation, Shannon Sharpe goes in motion out of the backfield to the left, the same side where another tight end is already lined up. Quarterback Brian Griese fakes a handoff to the running back heading left and then bootlegs right. The split end clears space by running a deep route. The slot receiver is the primary read, cutting inside 5 yards downfield before breaking to the open space in the right flat.

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