Raiders at Ravens Preview
The Oakland Raiders travel to Baltimore Sunday to take on the Ravens. Can the Raiders keep their momentum going with a win on the road, or will the Ravens defense keep them in contention in the AFC North. How do the teams stack up?
Neither team's offense will strike fear in the hear of an opponent. Both teams are being guided by young quarterbacks. The Ravens are led by rookie Joe Flacco, and the Raiders Jamarcus Russell is essentially a rookie as well. These teams are very similar offensively.
The Ravens have a very physical front line and they want to establish the run. Flacco has shown some mobility at times, but make no mistake, he does not have what it takes to put a team on his back and lead them to victory. The Ravens will look to establish the run, and then look to the play action pass to try and get the ball deep.
The Raiders will most likely show a similar approach. With a solid trio of running backs (Fargas, McFadden, and Bush), the Raiders will try to find a mismatch and get McFadden out in space. The Ravens defense will present a stiff challenge to Jamarcus Russell. Taking care of the football will be a high priority against a Ravens defense that capitalizes on mistakes.
Look for the Raiders to be conservative offensively, to avoid exposing Russell to that vicious Baltimore defense
The Ravens are very opportunistic on defense. Statistically the Ravens rank 2nd overall (1st run, 4th pass). The Ravens will look to take away the running game, and put the onus on Jamarcus Russell to make plays.
The Raiders have been a bit of an enigma on defense this season. At times they appear as if they are a dominant or elite defense. At other times they appear quite average. The Raiders allow an average of 136.2 yards rushing per game. This number will have to improve if they expect to get a win here. Look for the Raiders to commit more bodies to stop the run, and try to force Flacco to beat them.
Neither team will strike fear into an opponent in the return game. In the kicking game is where the Raiders have the advantage. Shane Lechler is in the top five in net punting, and Sebastian Janikowski's leg is quite a bit stronger than veteran Matt Stover's.
This game has all the signs of a classic defensive struggle. These games are almost always determined by a turnover or a big play on special teams. Both teams need this game badly. The Raiders need to build on Head Coach Tom Cable's first win, and the Ravens need to stay within shouting distance of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the division race. I see a low scoring, hard fought game, much like the one the Raiders were in last week...
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