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This week’s game against the Raiders is a must-win game for the Baltimore Ravens. For the past two weeks, the Ravens have been embarrassed by opposing teams. First, the Jaguars dismantled the Ravens in London, with a lopsided 44-7 victory. The very next week, Pittsburgh snapped Baltimore’s home winning streak against the Steelers. Baltimore lost that game 26-9. The season that started out with high hopes, seems to be fading quickly. The Ravens desperately need a win to turn their fortunes around. Obviously, no one should wish injury on an NFL, but Derek Carr will likely sit out the game, giving the Ravens a huge opportunity. It will take a major effort by all players on the Ravens to win this game, but Baltimore may be able to pull it off. Here are the keys to a Baltimore victory today, in Oakland.

Joe Flacco

That’s it, Joe Flacco. The Ravens’ franchise quarterback MUST play better if the Ravens are to have any chance at defeating the Raiders. Flacco so far this season, has thrown for 4 touchdowns and six interceptions, with a 65.0 quarterback rating. For the Ravens to win, Flacco needs to escape his recent struggles, and get back to his regular form. He is currently sitting on a 10 game streak of throwing an interception, the longest among active quarterbacks. Baltimore simply cannot win if Flacco extends that streak. Because of his subpar level of play, Flacco’s future has been questioned by the fans and media alike. Flacco needs a performance to silence the critics, and restore confidence in him. I believe Flacco can do it against the Raiders. Oakland’s defense is weak, to say the least. The Raiders defense is 20th in the league in yards allowed, giving out 347.8 per game. They are also 19th in the league in pass yards allowed, with 227.8 per game. Flacco needs to take advantage of this favorable matchup and lead Baltimore to a much-needed victory.

Ravens Defense Must Pressure EJ Manuel

Raiders star quarterback Derek Carr is likely to not play. That means the former Bills first-round selection, EJ Manuel, will start for Oakland. Manuel entered the game at quarterback last week after Carr went down with an injury. In his performance against the Broncos, Manuel threw 17 passes, 11 of which were completed. He scored no touchdowns but threw one interception, finishing with a 57.5 quarterback rating. Baltimore has a major opportunity to dominate on defense with Manuel in the game. The Ravens will likely focus on pressuring the backup quarterback, forcing him to think fast, and in turn, make mistakes. Manuel has had limited play time since losing his starting job in Buffalo to Tyrod Taylor. The rust is bound to show against Baltimore, and the Ravens defense is bound to take advantage of it. I expect the Ravens defense to trample all over EJ Manuel and the passing attack, making Oakland reliant on their rushing attack.

Raiders Rushing Attack Must Be Clogged

A few years ago, Marshawn Lynch was the scariest running back in the league. Now, he is merely a shell of his former self. Lynch started the season well against the Titans, rushing 18 times for 76 yards. The Raiders saw a slight drop in his performance the next week, against the Jets. Lynch rushed 12 times for 45 yards and one touchdown. After a decent start to the season, Lynch seems to have lost his production. In the past two games, Lynch only rushed 15 times, for 30 yards. His longest rushing attempt in that span is just 5 yards. If the Ravens can keep Lynch’s production down, while putting major pressure on EJ Manuel, they will halt the Raiders offense. Of course, the Raiders have other running backs. However, they aren’t doing too well either. Oakland’s second-leading rusher, Jalen Richard, started the season well, but saw a drop in production, just like Lynch. Although the Ravens are missing run stuffing tackle Brandon Williams, they should be able to clog up Oakland’s lackluster rushing attack.

Predicting the Ravens vs Raiders Game

If Derek Carr was playing for the Raiders, I would pick Oakland. However, Carr won’t play, and therefore Oakland won’t win. Heres what will happen:

  • EJ Manuel will throw two interceptions, one to Jimmy Smith, the other to CJ Mosley.
  • Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard will combine for 50 yards rushing.
  • Amari Cooper will score the Raiders only receiving touchdown.
  • Joe Flacco snaps his interception streak.
  • Joe Flacco tosses two touchdowns, one to Jeremy Maclin, one to Benjamin Watson.
  • The Ravens defense sacks EJ Manuel four times.
  • FINAL SCORE: Ravens 17 – Raiders 13

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