Oakland Raiders Week 10: 5 Keys Against Baltimore

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Oakland Raiders Week 10: 5 Keys Against Baltimore
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Palmer will likely have to be lights out for Oakland to win

I waited a day longer than usual to write this because, well, Doug Martin is still running.

After the nightmare second half on defense that saw Martin rush for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns, the Raiders are now 3-5 as the schedule again heats up.

When I profiled the biggest games on the schedule last spring, the Baltimore game was the first one on my list. Realistically, I never had the Raiders pegged as a contender in 2012. At best they were a borderline playoff team.

But, as much as some fans hate hearing this, it isn't always about wins and losses, but how you achieve them.

Baltimore has, for the most part, "punked" the Raiders.

Especially at M&T Stadium, where the Raiders have never won.

As a matter of fact, the Ravens are 6-1 all-time against the Raiders, with the only win coming in the utterly forgettable 2003 season. Think about that: Rich Gannon and Jeff Hostetler didn't beat the Ravens, but Rick Mirer did.

How does that relate to Sunday's game? Simple.

The last couple of times the Raiders have played in Baltimore, they have been blown away (28-6 in 2006, infamous for Aaron Brooks begging out of the game, and 29-10 in 2008). Even in a slightly more competitive game in 2009 (a 21-13 loss in Oakland), the enduring image was Willis McGahee's stiff arm on the hapless Hiram Eugene en route to a 77-yard TD run.

The point is, for all of the Raiders' historical bluster, they have been meek tabby cats against the bullies from Baltimore.

Last week's game is not a good omen, as a similar back in Ray Rice and a solid quarterback in Joe Flacco led a good Ravens offense against an Oakland unit that looked much like the same group from year's past.

To win, they will have to play inspired football and create their own breaks.

With Darren McFadden potentially out, two things can come of this game: One, we can see if Carson Palmer's experience against Baltimore helps (he's 9-4 as a starter lifetime against the Ravens). And two, with McFadden out, perhaps Marcel Reece and/or Mike Goodson can shine some light on if the struggles in the running game are due to the zone blocking system or McFadden's incompatibility with it.

Here are my five keys to Sunday's game.

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