After their second consecutive loss, this time at the hands of the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders have a must-win game at home this week against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5.
It will not come easy, even with a struggling Joe Flacco and an offensive line that hasn’t been able to protect him (welcome home, Khalil Mack) but given recent events; this could be a potentially season-defining moment for the Silver and Black.
While Derek Carr had another underwhelming performance and was injured late in the third quarter, backup EJ Manuel showed promise in leading the team in a terrible situation and almost came away a bandit at Mile High. Carr was diagnosed with a transverse process fracture in his back and is expected to be out two to six weeks. Although there is hope for an earlier return, it would not be surprising if the team is reluctant to rush back their 125 million dollar man.
The Raiders need a win, but it will have to be done without their leader on offense, as they will likely rely on newcomer and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch to burden the load. It will start against a Ravens defense giving up 127 yards per game on the ground which presents the Raiders with a unique opportunity to finally get the ground game going and bring back the fire that led them to a 12-4 record last season.
Reason for optimism is the recent play of the Raiders defense (when was the last time the Raiders could brag about their defense?). The team has welcomed back Mario Edwards Jr. with open arms and been pleasantly surprised by performances from young linebackers Corey James, Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow, to add to Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. This group will be called upon by their head coach to take care of business with Carr out for the foreseeable future. They hope to get additional help in the secondary with the return of Gareon Conley, especially if David Amerson misses time having sustained another concussion.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this team responds after two straight losses and whether they can rally behind a new face under center. While some fans are justifiably concerned, the team has a chance to show some resolve in the presence of this recent adversity. These Raiders have played in big games without their quarterback before, and understand the level of play that is required to win in this league. It certainly doesn’t hurt being back at home, where the Coliseum will be rocking and ready to celebrate a Raiders’ victory.