The St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens have only one thing in common going into this weekend: they both have injuries to key players. The difference between both squads is that the Ravens have found a way to win. The Rams are looking for their first win when they take on the Ravens this Sunday while the Ravens hope to get a repeat performance from their defense, which won their last game for them (a 9-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday).
The Rams (0-5) are in what could be described as “desperate mode”. They are still without offensive tackle Orlando Pace, quarterback Marc Bulger and running back Steven Jackson. In addition, they lost safeties Jerome Carter for the year (broken foot) and Todd Johnson (neck sprain). QB Gus Frerotte will replace Bulger again this week; last week he threw for 3 touchdowns but also threw 3 interceptions. The Rams have averaged only 287.4 yards in total offense (6th-lowest in the NFL) and are tied with the New Orleans Saints with the 4th-most turnovers (12).
The Ravens (3-2) playes last week without OT Jonathan Ogden, tight end Todd Heap and cornerback Samari Rolle; they also lost reserve OT Adam Terry and center Mike Flynn to injuries. Ogden may return for this weekend’s game and Rolle is expected to play. the Ravens have the league’s 4th-ranked defense, holding opponents to 274 yards allowed and only 66.6 yards rushing a game (2nd-best in the NFL). RB Willis McGahee is the heart of the Ravens’ offense (102 carries, 464 yards), while WR Derrick Mason (44 catches, 372 yards, 1 TD) leads the Ravens receiving corps.
For the Rams to win, they will need outstanding efforts from the trio of WR Torry Holt (28-351-3 TD’s), Frerotte and reserve RB Brian Leonard, who is looking to continue his hot running numbers (18 carries, 102 yards vs. Arizona last week). Naturally, the defense needs to step it up a notch, as well. The Ravens, to emerge victorious this weekend, simply need to establish McGahee early and probably often. The passing attack just has to be as close to turnover-free as possible throughout the game. The Ravens’ secondary should make things rough for the Rams’ Frerotte and McGahee should put up some impressive numbers as the Ravens win convincingly at home this week.