The Oakland Raiders are coming off back-t0-back losses to the Redskins and Broncos in which their offense struggled to get the ball moving. Now offensive coordinator Todd Downing must get his squad going again possibly without their fearless leader Derek Carr.
The Raiders star quarterback went down last week against the Broncos with a back injury, and will be out for at least two weeks according to head coach Jack Del Rio. That said, Carr did return to practice on a limited basis on Thursday. If Carr cannot go, then veteran backup E.J. Manuel will take the quarterback duties in his place. Manuel had a decent showing when he came in last week, completing 11-of-17 passes for 106 yards and one interception in the team’s 16-10 loss.
Manuel has the weapons to succeed, but the offense needs to get Amari Cooper going again. After a solid week one, Cooper has hauled in just seven receptions over the last three weeks. Cooper has the physical attributes to be one of the league’s best, but he’s struggled with consistency and could have a hard time against a Ravens pass defense that is giving up just 222 passing yards a game.
The Raiders should also get Michael Crabtree back after missing last week’s game with a chest injury. The veteran receiver provides Manuel another reliable receiver and will help take pressure off of Cooper. He has practiced on a limited basis the last two days.
Donald Penn and the Raiders offensive line must also play better if they want the team to get back on track. The unit has struggled to keep their quarterback clean and open holes for the rushing attack.
Marshawn Lynch has had little production during the team’s two losses, finishing with just nine carries for 12 yards last week. There’s no doubt that Downing will look to get his veteran running back going to alleviate some of the pressure on Manuel.
The Ravens offense has struggled mightily as well, averaging just 269 total yards per game (30th in the NFL). The Ravens try to ground and pound their opponents with a rushing attack that features Alex Collins, Terrance West and Javorius Allen. Between the three of them the unit is averaging 127 rushing yards a game (9th in the NFL).
Stopping the Ravens rushing attack will go a long way in slowing down the Ravens attack, as quarterback Joe Flacco and the passing game have struggled to get anything going. The veteran quarterback is averaging just 142 yards per game, the worst in the league.
Flacco’s main target is newcomer Jeremy Maclin, who leads the team with two touchdowns, while hauling in 10 receptions for 116 yards.
This week’s matchup is just the first of a three-week homestand for the Raiders. The Raiders will host the San Diego Chargers next week, followed up with the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.