Here at the Raider Ramble, we continue to provide pivotal game notes for each Oakland Raiders game throughout the season. This week on the Ramble we focus on the game against the Baltimore Ravens. These two teams have met on the field 10 times, including once in the postseason, with the Ravens winning seven of the games and Oakland three, the Raiders taking the last one for a 28-27 win last year in Baltimore. Here are a couple of things to pay attention to during the game.
EJ Manuel Vs. Derek Carr
When Carr went down last Sunday night, Manuel was thrust into the spotlight in a less than ideal situation. In spite of this, he played very well and could have thrown a touchdown to tight end Jared Cook that would have put the Raiders up by one point, but Cook couldn’t hold on. He had a pass to Cooper intercepted by Broncos safety Justin Simmons to end the game and ended up 11 for 17 for 106 yards, one interception, and one sack.
With a full week of practice hopefully he can fare better against the Ravens. Now it’s being reported that Derek is lobbying to play Sunday. Carr fared better against the Broncos, going 10 for 18, totaling 143 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions. Whoever plays under center on Sunday will be going against a defense that has nine interceptions and nine sacks, ranking 21st in total defense, 349 yards per contest, 16th in passing with 222 yards a game and 26th in rushing with 127.2 yards a game and 14th in points allowing only 20 points a game. It won’t be an easy task but it isn’t an impossible one either.
The past two weeks the once mighty Oakland offense has sputtered against two really good defenses but they get a little bit of a break even with Carr not playing. In fact, they should be able to move the ball on Baltimore’s defense if they get back to the power running scheme they used to run which means they’ll have to abandon the single back-formation which was leaving “Beast Mode” to fend for himself with no fullback helping to clear a path.
Last week against the Steelers, the Ravens defense gave up two touchdowns and 144 yards on 35 carries to Bell. Marshawn Lynch is not the same back as Bell but he is still “Beast Mode” and has plenty of miles left on those legs; and Oakland has two shifty speedsters in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington that are capable of doing damage themselves. It is imperative that they establish the run and re-establish their identity. While Ben Roethlisberger was able to have some success in the air, going 18 for 30 for 216, one touchdown and one interception. I would be very careful how many times I ask EJ Manuel to throw the ball to limit his mistakes.
Howard Vs. Mack
Austin Howard was a member of the Oakland Raiders for three years where he went up against Mack in practice. Sunday will mark the first time these two former teammates go against each other on different teams.
Howard was released by Oakland on July 28th due to a couple of injury plagued years where he was ineffective and bounced around between right guard and right tackle. After his release, the Ravens scooped him up and signed him to a three-year deal worth 16 million with 5.5 guaranteed. While Austin hasn’t given up a sack this season, he will have his hands full Sunday against Mack, who already has four sacks and 23 tackles including two last Sunday against the Broncos. If the Raiders stop the run on Sunday, Mack is going to pin his ears back and it’s going to be a long day for Howard. A quick prediction from this writer is that Mack will get at least one sack against his former teammate. Make sure you tune in on Sunday to find out the final result of this week’s matchup.