In four trips to Baltimore, the Raiders have yet to return to Oakland with a victory. Combine that with the fact that the Ravens haven’t lost at home since 2010, and it appears as though the Raiders’ chances of victory are slim.
What chances the Raiders do have rests on the shoulders of Carson Palmer. Palmer, who has been garnering a lot attention on Twitter this week, will be without the help of running backs Darren McFadden and backup Mike Goodson–though how big of an impact those two would have against a notoriously stingy run defense is dubious at best. And so, Palmer and the Raiders will look to steal victory from the Ravens’ pass defense, which Pro Football Focus ranks 27th.
As bad as the Ravens secondary has been, the Raiders passing offense might be equally so. Palmer has been spectacularly mediocre thus far this season. He’s racked up yardage, yes, but he has done so at only 7.2 yards per completion, good for 16th in the league. Palmer has been especially bad on deep throws, garnering a league worst 28.2 accuracy percentage (completions plus dropped passes divided by attempts).
Despite the Raiders lack of success with the deep ball, the threat of the Raiders speed at receiver has the Ravens worried. ”That’s kinda scary because you have three or four receivers that can run, that want to catch the ball down the field and embarrass the defense,” safety Bernard Pollard said.
We’ll find out Sunday whether Pollard’s fears are rational or not. If the first eight games were any indication, they are not.
How They Matchup
Why They’ll Win
Joe Flacco might be the most inconsistent quarterback in the league. His inconsistency can be exacerbated with pressure.
If the Raiders can apply pressure to Flacco, the game should at least be competitive. But, pressure aside, the Ravens are a run-heavy team, which plays into the Raiders’ strength. Though they were embarrassed last week by Doug Martin, I don’t think that performance is indicative of this team’s actual ability. A strong performance against the run will not only be the key to a Raider victory, but it will also prove that last week was a fluke.
Why They’ll Lose
If last week wasn’t a fluke, and the run defense has in fact regressed significantly, then the Raiders don’t stand a chance.
Who We’re Taking
Oakland Raiders @ Baltimore Ravens (-9)
Bay Area Sports Guy: The good news for Dennis Allen is that the Raiders’ problems are talent-based. You can quibble with the zone-blocking scheme favored by Greg Knapp, but at least they play hard. They just can’t tackle. The Ravens aren’t as strong as they were at this point last year. They’re still good enough to beat most teams at home, but I think Oakland keeps it close. Pick: Raiders
East Bay Sports Guy: I practice pessimism in all facets of my life. I’ve established as much over my time at BASG. But I want to be optimistic here and so my pick reflects that. Not necessarily reality. The truth is the Raiders don’t play well against bad teams, and they barely occupy the field against good ones. What is equally as true is the same came be said about Baltimore’s offense. If Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback, then I’m an elite journalist. Which is to say, he’s inconsistent at best. If the Raiders catch him on a bad day, then it’s hello 4-and-5. Pick: Raiders
Bay Area Stats Guy: The model seems to really not like the Raiders, but not enough to want to give 9 points to the other team, even on the road. The model likes the Ravens to win this game about 75 percent of the time but the average margin is just a touchdown. Maybe some garbage time points can help the Raiders to a cover in this one. Pick: Raiders
Ruthless Sports Guy: If I was a gambling man I would stay away from the Raiders all year long. They’re impossible to figure out. The 49ers are so formulaic that sometimes they seem like the easiest bet on the docket; it’s not the same for Oakland. They hung tight with the Falcons in Atlanta and I imagine they’ll do the same in Baltimore. Pick: Raiders
Bay Area Duck Guy: Even without seemingly half its defense and Joe Flacco not playing all that great, Baltimore is still a better football team than Oakland. They will run the ball effectively and I can’t see the Raiders doing much on offense, either. Even with a pretty large spread, the Ravens will get it done at home. Pick: Ravens