Discounting the Texans game, the Ravens have been competitive in every game thus far. After all, they are six and two. But this team has been through some tough times. The defense has been terrible and the offense cant produce on the road. That said, I think this Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders is a must win.
Make no mistake, this will not be an easy game. The Raiders bost a respectable running game (when McFadden is healthy), and have a track team the Raiders call wide receivers.
If the Raiders want to win this game, Carson Palmer will have to make plays and he has done just that against the Ravens. When Palmer was a Cincinnati Bengal, he faced the Ravens thirteen times and won nine of those games. In those thirteen games, Palmer has thrown for just over 3,000 yards and has thrown fifteen touchdowns to eleven interceptions.
Those are pretty good numbers for a Ravens defense that used to be elite. So what can Palmer do against a depleted Ravens defense that was struggling with their star players?
Jimmy Smith should play a large role in this game. He is a good player and has a lot of potential but has a tendency to bite on double moves, especially double moves out of play action. With the speed the Raiders have on the outside, Smith will have to stay at home and be fundamentally sound.
Tackling will also play a big role in this game. Thus far, the Ravens have been a poor tackling team. If the defensive backs play too far off the line to respect the Raiders speed, the Raiders will run comeback and slant routes to attack underneath. If the Ravens dont tackle well, one of those short routes could go the distance.
This game is a must win because of the remaining schedule. After the Raiders this Sunday, the Ravens must travel to Pittsburgh and San Diego before returning to Baltimore to play the Steelers for the second time in three weeks. The Season ends with a four game stretch against the Redskins in Washington, the Broncos and Giants at home, and the Bengals on the road to end the regular season.
This schedule scares me as it should scare most Ravens fans. Facing the Manning brothers two weeks in a row is brutal and Peyton always seems to beat the Ravens at home.
Personally, I see the Ravens getting to ten wins and earning a playoff spot. The AFC is wide open. Many teams can win the conference to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, I just hope the Ravens get that privilege.