Key Match-ups: Ravens-Raiders

ExtremeRavens .comCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2008

The Raiders might be the worst 2-4 team in the NFL in recent memory. Offensively and defensively, the team lacks consistency. In their losses, they tend to look as bad as anyone in the league. In their most recent win, they somehow slid past the Jets despite allowing more than 400 yards of total offense and more than 200 yards rushing. The team’s strongest unit is probably their special teams, anchored by (former 1st round draft pick…) kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Punter Shane Lechler isn’t too shabby either, averaging nearly 50 yards per kick and putting 14 inside the opponents 20 so far this year.

But that might be where praise for the Raiders stops… they have struggled on both offense and defense in a number of respects and are still trying to establish their identity as a unit.

Come Sunday, here are two match-ups that will be critcal in either team’s success.

Ravens’ Offense vs. Raiders’ Defense

QB Joe Flacco vs. Oakland’s Secondary

The Raiders defense is far from the league’s strongest. They allow 136 yards per game rushing and more than 220 per game passing. Those numbers rank 24th and 22nd in the league respectively, leaving the Raiders at 26th overall.

That said, the unit still does its fair share in protecting against the pass. The Raiders are in the league’s top 10 in both interceptions (7) and sacks (16). They have also allowed just 8 passing touchdowns so far this season.

Now, none of these numbers are jumping off the page at you, I know. The Raiders, with Rob Ryan (brother of Raven’s Rex) at the helm of the defense, are still just plain average. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be a major factor in this game. The secondary is more than capable as a unit, especially in the hands of DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson. Both are known for being prone to mental lapses, but both have the ability to change games when they need to. (more…)