The Ravens are trying to rebound against a troubled Raiders squad in another AFC West battle.
Despite the 'L' in the Ravens record column, last week's game was a fine effort by the Ravens. While the offense suffered against a strong Denver defense, a rebound can be expected as the team regroups and faces a Raider defense that allowed Andy Dalton's Bengals to put up over 30 points last week. Here are the key things to watch when these teams kickoff in a little under a hour.
The Ravens Must Forget Who They Are Facing
Every year, without fail, the Ravens lose a game that they probably should've won. It's simply inevitable. This matchup definitely gives off that 'trap game' vibe. While the Raiders have gained a bad reputation recently, some smart offseason moves have restored some of their legitimacy. Headlined by defensive studs like Aldon Smith, Justin Tuck, and Khalil Mack, this team is no joke. Plus if young offensive prospects like Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, and Amari Cooper pan out, you are looking at a future contender. While the team got blown out by the Bengals last week to the tune of a 33-13 loss, anything is possible in this league.
Young Tackles Must Step Up
Last week, young tackles James Hurst and Rick Wagner did exceptionally poor in protecting against the edge rush. Actually, perhaps using the word 'poor' to describe their performance is an understatement, as the two logged in PFF scores below -10 last week. Hurst, who replaced starting LT Eugene Monroe when he went down with a concussion in the first quarter last week, will be doing the same again. If the Ravens want to open up the deep ball and run game, then these two need to hold their own against the talented edge rushers of the Raiders.
Flacco Must Sling It Deep
Last week, the Ravens only had one attempt over 20 yards. That's unacceptable for a team that has one of the best deep threats in the league with Joe Flacco. With the Raiders down one starting safety, the Ravens can expose this vulnerability.
No More Awful Playcalling
I don't know what the Ravens strategy was going into the game, but five yard out routes on long third downs aren't going to bode well for the team's success. It's important to remember that Ravens fans were calling for former offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak's head after last year's Week 1 performance, so we might be overeacting about Marc Trestman's playcalling so far.
Normally I'm too realistic, even a bit pessimistic about the Ravens. Not this week. I'm super confident that the Ravens roll into Oakland fired up, and ready to avenge last week's lost. The Baltimore boys give the Raiders a 'Baltimore Beatdown', and win in a dominating fashion.
Final Score: Baltimore 34, Oakland 17
As for the 'experts', six of six CBS analysts have the Ravens winning. So do 12 of 13 panelists at ESPN, and all six of SBNation's pundits have the Ravens defeating Oakland. The oddsmakers in Vegas like the Ravens 23.4 to 18.3, putting the line between 6.5 to 7 (depending on the site) in favor of Baltimore.
How do you think the Ravens do this week?