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Raiders sputtering, injured offense presents the Ravens with a chance to rebound

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens come into this Week 5 contest against the Oakland Raiders in the midst of one of the worst two game stretches the team has had in years. After falling to the Steelers, the Ravens have had to gear up to fly across the country in order to face the Raiders, but it’s a game that presents the Ravens with a great chance to get back on track.

The formula for the Ravens two ugly defeats have been an anemic offense leading to the defense being on the field for way too long. The Raiders beat up lineup will give the Ravens a chance to turn that around.

It all starts with the defense, which should be able to get off the field quickly throughout this game.

The Ravens will not have to face Derek Carr due to injury, but instead will see E.J. Manuel under center. I expect the defense to feast on that opportunity. Manuel’s 39.5 QBR in his rookie season was the highest he’s had in any year of his career. He is very prone to interceptions, having thrown nine in his rookie season, and already has one this season despite not even playing a full game yet.

The Ravens defense forced 10 turnovers in the first two games, but had none in Week 3 and one in Week 4. Facing Manuel gives the Ravens a chance to force multiple turnovers once again.

Last week, Manuel faced the star-studded Broncos secondary, and was okay, at best. He faces another strong secondary in the Ravens this week. Jimmy Smith returned to practice on Friday and, if he plays, this unit could make it a very long day for Manuel. If Smith is out, then we will see a lot of Marlon Humphrey, who has been excellent this season. On top of that, the Ravens may be getting Jaylen Hill back this week, who was superb in the preseason.

The Raiders have struggled to run the ball this season despite having a good offensive line. They are 24th in the NFL in rushing, averaging 86.2 yards per game. Marshawn Lynch’s yardage per game has decreased each week this season, going from 76 to 45 to 18 to 12. The Ravens aren’t likely to get Brandon Williams back this week, but the rest of the defense should be able disrupt Lynch and the Raiders rushing attack.

All in all, this game presents the Ravens defense with a chance to regain its elite form. They should be able to get off the the field quickly against this battered Oakland team.

If the defense does play as I think it can today, the offense will have to do their part. They are facing the 20th ranked total defense. Joe Flacco has to rebound and lead the offense. The defense, hopefully, will be able to get him good field position, and it is something that Flacco needs to take advantage of. If he can do so, this is a game that the Ravens should win.