Baltimore Beatdown traded five questions with the SB Nation blogger for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are the Baltimore Ravens next opponent on Sunday. Levi Damien is an Editor on Silver and Black Pride and his answers to my question are below. Check it out and head on over to their site to represent Baltimore Beatdown, but do it appropriately with class.
1. At 3-5, the Raiders are still only a winning streak away from competing for the AFC West title. Do you think they have a chance and if not, who do you see winning the division?
The only chance the Raiders have of competing for the AFC West title is if Peyton Manning went down with an injury. And since I don’t ever anticipate something like that, I say no. I said before the season started that the Broncos were the favorite to win the AFC West and that still holds true. The Raiders are currently holding onto thin hopes of a Wild Card but realistically it would require them finishing at least 6-2.
2. What is the offense's strength and weakness?
The strength of the offense is Carson Palmer. His ability to stand strong in the pocket, run the no-huddle, and spread the ball around to a mediocre receiving corps is the saving grace of this offense.
The weakness is the offensive line. They haven’t been opening up holes for the running game and haven’t been offering protection in the passing game.
3. What is the defense's strength & weakness?
The strength of the defense is at defensive end. Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy, and Andre Carter have all played well at times, Houston especially. Shaughnessy was the only pass rush early in the season and Carter is in his third game with the team and looks to finally be back in football shape.
4. Who is one player we should keep an eye on for the offense & defense?
On offense, it’s fullback Marcel Reece. He is the Raiders X-factor and had a breakout game last week after Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson left with ankle injuries. Reece is lethal in the receiving game and could see some carries this week as well.
On defense, it’s Ron Bartell. This is his first game back since leaving with a broken shoulder blade in the opener. It will be interesting to see how he performs because we have yet to get a good look at him since he joined the Raiders. It will also be interesting to see who plays where now that Bartell is back. Michael Huff will either start opposite him with Pat Lee getting benched or Huff will move back to free safety and Lee will get the start opposite Bartell.
5. Your prediction of the winner, score and why?
The Raiders are not in a good shape right now. Doug Martin ran all over them last week and everyone has compared Martin to Ray Rice so I expect Rice to have a good day. The Raiders were able to make a valiant comeback against the Buccaneers but they have the 31st ranked defense. They won’t mount that kind of comeback against the Ravens especially with the dreaded East Coast trip. Ravens win 34-27.
Check out my answers to Silver & Black Pride's questions from a Ravens point of view!