The Baltimore Ravens head to Oakland to take on the Derek Carr-less Raiders in Week 5. The Russell Street Report staff gives its predictions here:
Statistically the Ravens and Raiders are very similar. Coincidentally both sport (2-2) records.
The 2017 Raiders, even with Derek Carr, are not the prolific offense that they were a season ago. The passing game hasn’t produced (sound familiar?) and two-time Pro Bowl WR Amari Cooper is struggling with his routes and holding onto the football. He’s collected just 12 passes for 9.2 YPC despite being targeted 31 times. Reports have surfaced that he’s counting his steps while running routes – not exactly the sign of a confident player.
Michael Crabtree should be a go this week and that will provide a lift for backup QB EJ Manuel who gets the starting nod, subbing for the injured Carr. Manuel did get the win over the Ravens as a member of the Buffalo Bills back on September 29, 2013 but his 48.9 passer rating that game didn’t help. EJ can thank Joe Flacco and his 5 interceptions that afternoon for the 23-20 win.
As for the Raiders run game, it has been so-so and Beast Mode (Marshawn Lynch) is hardly that anymore, averaging just 3.4 YPC and a long run from scrimmage of 14 yards. So don’t look for much of a threat there. Lynch’s career seems to be in Toast Mode.
Defensively, Raiders pass rushers Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards and Bruce Irvin will challenge the Ravens O-Line so it’s important to have productive first downs and stay out of predicable passing downs. The Raiders 24th-ranked rush defense might be inviting for Alex Collins & Co.
Here’s what to expect:
— Flacco will be a decent caretaker of the football and end his 10-game interception streak.
— Alex Collins cracks the 100-yard mark and is the star of the game. He’ll score both Ravens TD’s.
— Terrell Suggs gets back on track with 1 ½ sacks.
— Marlon Humphrey gets his first career interception while covering another former member of the Crimson Tide (Amari Cooper).
— Ravens win the turnover battle 3 to 1. The Ravens turnover will be the result of a blindside hit on Flacco by Khalil Mack. It will lead to the Raiders first and only touchdown.
Ravens win 20-16.
— This is not a good matchup for the Ravens and flying cross-country compounds the challenge.
— Joe Flacco admitted this week that the offense lacks confidence. That carries over to this game. Flacco extends his league-leading streak of games with at least one interception thrown to 11.
— Alex Collins will again lead the Ravens in rushing yards. Improved mechanics help him avoid another costly fumble.
— Oakland defensive ends Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. have combined for seven sacks. They will add at least three more against the Ravens’ injury-riddled offensive line.
— Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch manages his best game with 90 yards and a touchdown.
— The Ravens’ secondary comes up with a pair of turnovers to keep the game close.
Final score: Raiders 16, Ravens 10
EJ Manuel or no, Jimmy Smith or no, I just don’t trust any Ravens team playing on the west coast (under John Harbaugh), and I damn sure don’t trust THIS Ravens team playing on the west coast.
Mack has three sacks and Irvin & Edwards add one apiece. Flacco throws it 40+ times again, but on the bright side, his interception streak finally comes to an end.
That’s not enough.
Raiders 20 Ravens 13
Nothing changes for this offense, especially as they head to the West Coast. Joe Flacco throws an INT for the 11th straight game, and the Ravens run under 20 times for 76 yards. The defense comes away with two INTs to keep the game close, but the offense won’t be able to get them in the end zone for points.
Raiders win 17-13.
I expected to see a sense of urgency last week after the Ravens had been embarrassed by the Jaguars. Instead, we saw an offense that looked broken, lost and with zero identity or direction. After watching Flacco and Marty Morhinweg completely contradict each other the last two days regarding the team’s confidence, and Mornhinweg unable to directly answer one question about how to improve the offense, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.
The Ravens are facing EJ Manuel so this game will at the very least be close. But until the Ravens can show anything on offense there’s no way to trust they can beat anyone. Despite winning the turnover battle the Ravens fall 17-10.
My bold predictions are Khalil Mack wins AFC Defensive Player of the Week and Greg Roman replaces Marty “we’re taking the wind” Mornhinweg Monday morning. (Just google it).
I honestly expect a continuation from last weeks loss to the Steelers in all facets of the game.
I don’t care if its Derek Carr, EJ Manuel or Tim Tebow under center- if Dean Pees continues to avoid rushing the QB or throwing any exotic looks out there to confuse an offense, the QB will simply sit back there all day waiting for his receivers to create space. And they will! I also expect the Raiders to work the edge in the run game with a few successful Cordarelle Paterson sweeps. Lynch will NOT be the leading rusher.
The Ravens offense will continue to fall short with too much reliance on the mid-to-deep pass game that never has time to set up, when the focus should be short and an extension of the run game given the ineptitude of this offensive line. But alas- Marty won’t do it.
Flacco throws a pair of picks and one TD to Ben Watson, Alex Collins breaks 100 rushing yards thanks to a few big chunks, but ultimately that’s all she wrote for the offense as the Ravens fall to 2-3.
–The Ravens find a way to score early and get the lead they have not had for the last 8 quarters
–With the lead, the Ravens put pressure on Manuel which leads to a 3-turnover game
–The remainder of the Ravens’ scoring all comes from the defense via turnovers or winning the field position battle
–Joe Flacco avoids an interception, ending his streak
–Marlon Humphrey collects his first career interception