scouting report

The Baltimore Sun

Ravens run offense vs. Bengals run defense: : Willis McGahee is considered probable after missing the preseason with a knee injury. He was a nonfactor against the Bengals last season, averaging 3.8 yards a carry (137 yards on 36 attempts). It'll be interesting to see McGahee's comfort level in the Ravens' new offensive system. Even if McGahee plays, the Ravens will probably give many touches to running back Ray Rice, who was impressive in the preseason. The Bengals have only two new starters (defensive end Antwan Odom and outside linebacker Keith Rivers) to a front seven that gave up 118.3 rushing yards a game last season (21st in the NFL). EDGE: EVEN:

Ravens pass offense vs. Bengals pass defense: : Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco can expect to see a more aggressive defense from the Bengals, who ranked last in the NFL last season in sacks (22). Cincinnati likely will blitz heavily and leave former first-round cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph to cover the Ravens' receivers man-to-man. Flacco, who averaged a paltry 4.2 yards a pass attempt in the preseason, needs to take some chances downfield. Defensive end Odom, who had eight sacks for Tennessee last season, will go against left tackle Jared Gaither, who was limited to one preseason game because of an ankle injury. EDGE: BENGALS:

Bengals run offense vs. Ravens run defense: : Few teams have run on the Ravens at home, where they have allowed just two 100-yard rushers in 40 games. The Ravens might have to play without nose tackle Kelly Gregg (doubtful, knee), one of the keys to their run defense. There's more uncertainty for Cincinnati. In replacing Rudi Johnson as the Bengals' starting running back, Chris Perry will play his first game since Nov. 26, 2006. Cincinnati's running game will be slowed by the loss of fullback Jeremi Johnson, who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. EDGE: RAVENS:

Bengals pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: : This will feature two banged-up units. The Bengals have issues at receiver with Chad Ocho Cinco (torn labrum in shoulder), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring) and Chris Henry (suspension). The Ravens will be without nickel back Fabian Washington (suspension) and could be missing safety Ed Reed (questionable, neck). Cornerback Chris McAlister is also dealing with a knee injury. Look for the Bengals to try to spread out the defense to take advantage of the Ravens' replacements, nickel back Corey Ivy and free safety Jim Leonhard. Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer has a career rating of 92.6 against the Ravens, throwing 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games. EDGE: BENGALS:

Special teams: : Shayne Graham accounted for all of the Bengals' scoring in the last meeting, kicking seven field goals. The Ravens' Matt Stover has converted 88.7 percent of his field-goal attempts against the Bengals. Ravens returner Yamon Figurs has been extremely potent in the preseason, averaging 28.6 yards on kickoffs and 24.7 yards on punts. The Ravens contained the Bengals' returners - Antonio Chatman on punts and Glenn Holt on kickoffs - in both meetings last season. EDGE: RAVENS:

Intangibles: : The Bengals have had the Ravens' number, winning six of the past seven meetings. But the Ravens are looking to the future. With John Harbaugh coaching his first game, the energy at M&T; Bank Stadium should reach a fever pitch. This is the first time the Ravens have opened the season at home since 2005. EDGE: RAVENS:

Prediction: : It's tempting to think the Ravens will win because of the excitement surrounding their new era. But emotions can't negate injuries. The Ravens will have trouble moving the ball with a rookie quarterback and a banged-up running back, and they'll have trouble stopping the Bengals with a depleted secondary. BENGALS, 20-10:

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