1. Will the Baltimore Ravens snap their four-game losing streak?
Total (22) Rushing (18) Passing (21)
Which Kyle Boller will show up today as he returns to his native Southern California? Will it be the lost individual who was intercepted twice and fumbled once or the gunslinger who led an impressive fourth-quarter comeback? The Ravens need to know as soon as possible.
Willis McGahee has outrushed a distinguished group of runners in every game in his inaugural season in Baltimore, including Rudi Johnson twice, Thomas Jones, Edgerrin James, Jamal Lewis twice, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch and Willie Parker.
Devard Darling, where have you been hiding? He’s coming off a career breakthrough with four catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Derrick Mason ranks second in the NFL with 72 catches behind T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s 76 receptions. There are growing concerns that tight end Todd Heap could miss the remainder of the season with a strained hamstring.
Total (6) Rushing (3) Passing (13)
They could be in trouble again in kick coverage, facing off with Darren Sproles. Matt Stover showed that the inactivity of the previous three weeks was no problem, nailing a potential game-winning 47-yard kick. Punter Sam Koch can’t shank kicks the way he did to give Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs a short field to operate.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
The Baltimore Ravens’ turnover problem is having a severe impact on the league’s sixth-ranked defense. On the 17 touchdowns allowed by Baltimore’s defense, the average starting field position for opponents has been the 49-yard line. Of those scores, nine of the touchdowns have started at the 50-yard line or in Ravens territory with an average starting position of the 31-yard line. Ten of the 19 touchdowns scored against Baltimore have been off turnovers, including a fumble return for a score by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Landon Johnson during the season-opener and a 100-yard interception return by Cleveland Browns safety Brodney Pool a week ago. Of the 43 total scores allowed by the Ravens’ defense this season on 17 touchdowns and 26 field goals, the opponents’ average starting field position is their own 45-yard line. Bottom line: Lots of short fields, and lots of defeats for a team that used to usually win the turnover game. Baltimore is 43-0 during the nine-year Brian Billick era when posting a plus-2 turnover ratio and 61-5 with a plus-1 margin. However, Baltimore is 8-45 under Billick when it has a negative turnover ratio.
Photo by Sabina Moran