The Ravens run defense has been highly criticized this season for giving up an average of 140 rushing yards per game. However, the Ravens defense will catch a slight break this week as they take on an Oakland Raiders team that will be without running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson.
Last week, both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson suffered high-ankle sprains against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and as a result, sat out of practice for the entire week. On Friday, they were officially listed as OUT on the injury report. Now the Raiders will now look to second year back Taiwan Jones as the next man up.
This is a tremendous loss to the Oakland Raiders as their offense has struggled this season. Quarterback Carson Palmer has been inconsistent at times, forcing the Raiders to rely on their running game.
While Jones is the next running back listed on the Raiders’ roster, expect fullback Marcel Reece to get plenty of action on Sunday. Reece has emerged as one of the league’s best fullbacks and is a pure athlete at the position. Up to this point, Reece has only been a factor in the passing game, averaging 10.5 yards per reception on 26 catches, but I would expect him to get a fair share of carries against the Ravens.
The absence of two extremely talented backs in McFadden and Goodson will surely make things easier on the Ravens’ defense, but the Raiders do have an advantage in that there are only two running plays on film for both Taiwan Jones and Marcel Reece from this season. Because the Ravens have very little film to study, it may take some time to get fully adjusted to two unfamiliar backs.
So far this season, the Raiders have relied on their passing game, throwing the ball 41 times per game compared to just 22 attempts per game on the ground, so the injuries to McFadden and Goodson may not affect them too much. On the other hand, the Ravens’ defensive struggle against the run this year may encourage Oakland to run the ball more this Sunday.