5 Bold Predictions for Oakland Raiders' Week 2 Matchup
It’s time to view the Oakland Raiders' Week 2 matchup from a bold perspective. What will transpire on the field between two teams that struggled offensively last week?
Will quarterback Derek Carr surgically dissect the Baltimore Ravens defense? Can cornerback D.J. Hayden finally get his head around for a pick-six? Will the Raiders defense shut down the Ravens offense?
Every week, there’s something you can point to and say, “Wow, didn’t see that coming.”
The following bold predictions are made based on factual background to prove the unthinkable. In the NFL, take nothing for granted. That’s why they play the games.
Over 10 Blitzes from Ken Norton Jr.
Someone tap defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. on the shoulder, and let him know he has two potentially dominant pass-rushers on the roster.
According to Associated Press writer Josh Dubow, Norton didn’t call for a single blitz in Week 1. Pro Football Focus recorded three blitzes from the Raiders on the quarterback, either way, the defense didn't bring enough pressure. The rest of the league averaged at least 13 or more.
It’s possible that Norton wanted to see if the defensive line could provide pressure much use of the blitz, which proved negative.
Now, the Raiders defensive coordinator must flip the script and unleash the quarterback vultures or risk another poor pass-rushing effort for the defense.
Flacco went 1-of-8 for 22 passing yards with two interceptions—one of which resulted in a pick-six against the blitz, per Pro Football Focus. Someone pass Norton that stat before game time.
Derek Carr Throws a Pick-Six
Speaking of a pick-six, Carr seems prone to toss one to the other team while shaking off more of those early-season jitters. Carr threw an ugly pick-six in the preseason and hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in this calendar year from preseason to the regular season.
In an open press conference, the Raiders starting quarterback admitted to early-season jitters as the culprit for his inaccurate throws in Week 1.
Carr faces a tough challenge with the Ravens defense coming into town. Baltimore stifled the Denver Broncos offense last week. Cornerback Aqib Talib scored the Broncos' only touchdown in the contest.
One inaccurate pass toward cornerbacks Lardarius Webb or Jimmy Smith could go the other way for a touchdown.
Steve Smith Held Under 40 Receiving Yards
When Flacco drops back to pass, all eyes shift to wide receiver Steve Smith. Wide receiver Torrey Smith served as the deep threat who stretched the defense in years past. Now, he suits up for the San Francisco 49ers.
The remaining Smith will get most of the attention from the Raiders' No. 1 cornerback, T.J. Carrie, who did a great job covering Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green last week. Carrie allowed two catches for 24 yards and zero touchdowns with one pass defensed in Week 1.
According to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, Smith already committed himself to retirement at the end of the year after his 15th season, and he’s the Raven’s best offensive weapon. He recorded two catches for 13 receiving yards last week.
Carrie should find success in keeping Smith under wraps, and the Raiders should provide safety help over the top as insurance.
Smith will take the field with a big bull's-eye on his back as Flacco’s clear-cut, go-to option in the passing attack on Sunday.
Latavius Murray Held Under 50 Rushing Yards
Head coach Jack Del Rio would ideally like to see running back Latavius Murray handle more carries out of the backfield. He’ll surpass his Week 1 total of 11 carries, but the Ravens run defense won’t allow more than 50 yards on the ground.
Last week, the Broncos made a concerted effort to run the ball with 24 carries between running back Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, but the duo amassed 70 combined rushing yards.
According to Pro Football Focus, Baltimore’s defense ranked as the second best in run defense behind the Bengals.
Despite the notable departures on defense, the Ravens remain stout in the middle. Brandon Williams ranked as the best nose tackle against the run with inside linebacker C.J. Mosley providing solid run support beyond the line of scrimmage.
Raiders “Upset” the Ravens
Bleacher Report’s experts made their consensus picks, and none of them picked the Raiders to win this game. ESPN’s experts made their picks, and Keyshawn Johnson stepped up as the brave soul to go out on a limb to pick the Raiders.
Most analysts aren’t aware, but the Ravens have transitioned from an AFC powerhouse to an average team over the past two seasons. They’re 18-15 in the last 33 games and lost one their best pass-rushers in Terrell Suggs for the season with an ACL tear.
Yes, they still have edge-rusher Elvis Dumervil, but Suggs served as the field general who vocally led Baltimore's defense after linebacker Ray Lewis retired.
Flacco has one established reliable weapon on offense who’s 36 years old and on his way off into the sunset in a couple of months. What’s so intimating about the Ravens this year outside of the fact that they're well-coached?
Coaching plays a part, but lacking talent on offense in an offensive league poses a problem. Carr doesn’t have to play a spectacular game. If he’s decent with all the weapons at his disposal, the Raiders can pull out a close win in an ugly defensive matchup.
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Baltimore Ravens roster provided by Baltimoreravens.com.
Week 1 statistics and play-by-play analysis provided by NFL.com.