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Guest analysis: Raiders vs. Ravens


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 14, 2001

I remember at the beginning of the year I said this is going to be the year of the offense. Then about seven or eight weeks into the season, all these defenses rounded into shape and started playing extremely well. The Ravens are better than I ever thought they would be.

The Ravens defense is incredibly similar to the Giants defense of 1986 when we won the Super Bowl. One of the coaches once told me there were 1,000 plays during the season, and our defense lined up the same way 980 times. The Ravens remind me a lot of that. They don't change up a lot. You can't pick out a weak spot. They can pass rush, they can stop the run, they've got the tackling machine in Ray Lewis.

The thing that separates the Ravens defense from most of them in the league is it's big. The league has kind of downsized on defense, but the Ravens have big linebackers, big defensive backs. They're extremely large on the defensive front, too. They're fast but they're extremely powerful.

But I don't know if the Ravens have seen an offensive line as big as the Raiders or as determined as the Raiders when it comes to running the ball with power. Rich Gannon will again have to play well. ...

The Raiders count on their quarterback every week. The problem with Baltimore is they don't always ask these things of Trent Dilfer. And things don't come about because all of a sudden you need them. If the Ravens have to force the action on offense, it's just trouble for their whole team.

I think Baltimore is going to be more aggressive on offense. The Ravens are going to have to make more plays and score more points. I don't think the defense is going to be able to hold Oakland to a 10- or 14-point game. But if Baltimore only needs to throw between 15 and 20 passes, it will win.

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