This week the Oakland Raiders head to Baltimore to face the Ravens. From the outside looking in, this would seem to be an automatic win for the Ravens who havent lost a game in Baltimore since a 13-10 loss to Pittsburgh December 5th 2010. Sitting at 6-2 Baltimore boasts the second best record in the AFC and Oakland at 3-5 is two games out of first place in the AFC west and coming off of a heartbreaking loss to Tampa Bay. Many people are already marking this as a loss for Oakland and i dont see it that way at all. Here are some matchups that will have an impact on what i see as a physical slugfest. These matchups will also result in Oakland coming out of Baltimore with a win for the first time ever vs the Ravens.
Begin And End Stopping Ray Rice!
Last week Raven quarterback Joe Flacco had season lows against Cleveland with 153 yds passing on 24 attempts. Expect some of the same with Baltimore feeding the rock to Ray Rice. Last week they ran the ball 37 times with 25 of those rushes going to Rice for 98 yds and a td. With Rice averaging 4.7 YPC and how the Raiders handled the “Muscle Hampster”, the battle starts and stops here. I see the Raiders coming in to Baltimore with a disciplined attack up front and i see them stepping up to the challenge. In the first half last week against Tampa Bay Oakland handled the Doug Martin attack just fine. There were just too many defensive breakdowns on those big runs that killed us. I see coach Dennis Allen and Tarver drilling the need to be in position and know where your help is. I expect a full four quarters of disciplined run defense.
Can Oakland Run With No Backs?
Oakland wasn’t exactly running all over the field with Darren Mcfadden and Mike Goodson so what will they look like with both of them sidelined with high ankle sprains? With news that the Raiders did not bring in a running back this week, the consensus is that Marcell Reece and Taiwon Jones will handle the load at half back. The Ravens are allowing 140 rushing yards per game this year which is uncharactoristic to this team. The loss of Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb has no doubt helped raise that stat. We know what Reece can do when fed the ball like in last weeks desperate fourth quarter, what intrigues me is to see what Taiwon Jones will do when he is forced to play a lot of downs. Hes a playmaker and i think when he gets comfertable on Sunday we may see something special.
Carson Aganst A Familiar Foe.
Carson Palmer sits at 9-4 against the Ravens all time. Though he may not have the Raidernation’s respect he certanly has Baltimore’s. Raven linebacker Terrell Suggs was quoted this week in saying, “I dont fear any quarterbacks, but im always worried when i play Carson Palmer.” “…I’m very aware of the talent. I know he can make every throw. If you ask me, he’s very highly underrated. He’s definitely one of the premier quarterbacks in the league.” Oakland will need Palmer to…play like Palmer to win this game. That means make the big throws and do the things he knows he can against a defense he knows quite well.
Oakland Offense VS Baltimore Redzone D
As much as i love Sebastian Janikowski if hes kicking field goals this Sunday i want them to be from 40 and beyond. Oakland MUST capitalize on trips to the redzone by scoring 6 points instead of three. One thing im hoping is that the Juron Criner citing last week on the two point conversion is a sign of things to come. Criner is a big threat in the redzone as he has the skills, size, and awareness to go after jump balls. I’ve questioned from the beiginning why Rod Streater seems to be a constant target on redzone fade routes. Though i love Streater, he is not built for that play. Criner is as he showed on that conversion when he got up and snagged the ball. Hopefully we see more of that and Criner.
last week i said that the Raiders Bucs would be a shootout as it was. I see a war this week with less scoring but much more disciplined defense coming from the Raiders. Richard Seymour will be out at defensive tackle pushing Desmond Bryant in his spot. Bryant is more than capable of filling that spot. Lets go get physical and get this win nation!
Oakland 30 Baltimore 23