The Oakland Raiders host the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum. Success will lie in how the Raiders decide to adjust for their opponents. The best way to do that is to know your enemy.
Baltimore has been an elite franchise in the past. The fact of the matter is that this year, they are a shell of their former selves. However, this shell has a few fundamental skills that can give the Raiders fits in this Sunday’s game.
Given the poor performance of Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense thus far, this game will likely be contested for the Raiders on the offensive side of the ball. It might seem like an easy feat in some respects, but Baltimore’s defense has silently amassed a few stats that can make or break this team.
While the Ravens are allowing 127.3 rushing yards per game, the Raiders’ running game is virtually non-existent. Despite having an incredibly talented backfield, the Silver and Black have only managed 86.25 yards per game this season. The math seems simple: the Raiders have averaged less than the Ravens have surrendered, so that should work out well for us, right? Not necessarily. Given the deployment of the Raiders’ running backs, to assume that they will even be running is premature.
The Raiders have been averaging 4.1 yards per carry. That may seem like a good number until you look at the decline in production from game to game. Marshawn Lynch can be an every-down back, but due to his age, stature, and play style, the Raiders have been using him sparingly, often times deploying him on first and third downs only or in red zone situations. In game one against the Titans, Lynch had 18 carries for 76 yards. That statistic dropped every single week, so much so that the Broncos game saw him carry 9 times for only 12 yards. That kind of reduction is unacceptable and it won’t make an impact on any team, even a team ranked 26th in yards allowed.
One of the most important stats for a defense is red zone performance. The Ravens have been effective enough to earn 3rd place in the league, only allowing 16 of 52 3rd down conversions, a total of 31% of attempts. Compare that to the Raiders in 26th in red zone conversions and there’s an obvious mismatch.
Baltimore has pulled together a few of the defensive stats that matter most. The Oakland offense has some serious improvements to make on third downs; if that happens, the boo birds will be out in Baltimore.