Game Preview: Struggling Ravens head to west coast to face Raiders

OAKLAND, CA — Just two weeks ago, the Ravens flew high with a 2-0 record. Following a trip to London and a tangle with the Steelers, the Ravens came back down to Earth, now owning a 2-2 record and trying to stay afloat in the brutal AFC North Division. On Sunday, the Ravens will play in a third time zone in as many weeks with a trip to Oakland, where the Raiders await.

Oakland finds itself in a similar circumstance. Just like Baltimore, the Raiders emerged victorious in their first two games against the Titans and Jets, and then slipped to the Redskins and Broncos. The Raiders share a similar trait with the Ravens in the injury department. Several starters on both sides of the ball face nagging injuries, and now quarterback Derek Carr‘s name falls on the injury report.

High expectations surrounded the Ravens and Raiders for 2017, and neither team expected to hold a 2-2 record entering week 5. This may not be a divisional game, but it’s a crucial one. The winner will sport a winning record, and pick up a conference win that could help them later in the season.

Ravens’ last time in Oakland: In 2019, the Raiders will move from Oakland to Las Vegas. These two teams will meet again next season, but that matchup will take place in Baltimore. A listing of the Ravens’ future opponents through 2019 can be found here.

Injury Report (as of Oct. 6):

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 12.09.38 PM.png

Friday notes: Smith returned to practice, as did Hill. John Harbaugh said he will play on Sunday. Smith has been dealing with Achilles soreness for a few weeks, put played through it. He also welcomed a baby into the world this week. Hill has not yet played this season. after an impressive preseason. Watson and M. Williams also returned to practice on Friday. Watson may play, Williams will not. B. Williams and Terrell Suggs did not practice on Friday. Probably a veterans day off for Suggs; Williams is out.

*Limited Practice (LP), Full Practice (FP), Did Not Practice (DNP)

Screenshot Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Details:

Where: Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, California

When: Sunday, Oct. 8, 4:05 pm EST

Network & Commentators: CBS, Greg Gumbel and Trent Green

Game coverage: Ravens fans can catch the game on their local CBS station. Fans out of market can watch on NFL Sunday Ticket. Gerry Sandusky has the call on WBAL 1090, 98 Rock, and gameday audio will also stream on the Baltimore Ravens website.

Weather: Looking at The Weather Channel, the temperature in Oakland on Sunday looks promising. There’s a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and a low of 58. Winds will blow west at 10-15 MPH. There’s a 10% chance of rain.

Offensive Offense? 

Ravens offensive stats.jpg

That graphic says it all. With Joe Flacco‘s back injury and the state of the offensive line, expectations for the offense became low. In the first two Ravens games, the offense got help with the defense forcing 10 combined turnovers. The defense has not played as well in the last two games, and its taking its toll on the offense.

Even with the offensive line in shambles, Flacco needs to play better. Out of all 32 starting quarterbacks, Flacco has the worst QBR (65.0) and its not close. Ahead of Flacco stands Jay Cutler (80.4 QBR). To put things in perspective, the Dolphins have been shut out two games in a row.

Flacco needs to get the ball to the receivers more. The Ravens’ top three receivers have yet to make a difference in a game. Jeremy Maclin (10 catches, two TD), Mike Wallace (nine catches, one TD), and Breshad Perriman (two catches) need to do a better job catching the football too. Watson leads the team in receiving with 16 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.

The defense needs to carry some of the blame too. With B. Williams in the lineup, the defense has given up 10 points. Without him, they have given up 70 points. Offenses, particularly running backs, are taking advantage of Williams’ absence. The Ravens will not have Williams again this week, but Oakland’s running attack has not taken off so far this season. That, coupled along with the absence of Carr, should bode well for Baltimore.

Graphic Credit: Evin Hartsock 

Scouting Oakland:

  • Carr will miss Sunday’s game after suffering back spasms in Oakland’s 16-10 loss to the Denver Broncos last week. Carr, who is 2-0 with a 110.6 rating against the Ravens (seven touchdown passes, one interception) will miss 2-6 games.
  • In Carr’s place, former Bills first round pick E.J. Manuel will start against Baltimore. Manuel went 11-for-17 for 106 yards and an interception last week against Denver. Manuel is 1-0 against the Ravens in his career. He has 3,608 career passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions (76.9 QBR).
  • Other injury notes: WR Michael Crabtree (chest) missed last week’s game, but is probable for Sunday. Crabtree leads all Oakland receivers with three touchdowns on 16 receptions. WR Amari Cooper (knee) and RB DeAndre Washington (hamstring) are probable as well. DE Mario Edwards (back), G Gabe Jackson (foot), CB Keith McGill (foot), DB David Emerson (concussion), and CB Gareon Conley (shin) are all questionable.
  • After taking a year off, 31-year-old running back Marshawn Lynch has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game. His highest rushing total so far? 76 yards against the Titans in week 1. He has one rushing touchdown this season.
  • Right now, the Raiders possess the 15th-ranked offense and the 13th-ranked defense. Oakland has been penalized 25 times for 238 yards, where their opponents got penalized 26 times for 213 yards.

Image Credit: SFBay.ca

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