Both the Raiders and Ravens face a critical game as both teams finish the first quarter of the 2017 at the .500 mark.
Last season, Derek Carr was injured and the Raiders season basically fell apart.
Last week, Carr was injured again but the team is hopeful that having an experienced backup rather than a rookie will help keep their playoff aspirations afloat.
Carr will miss two to six weeks after a transverse process fracture and instead of Connor Cook, like they had to last year, the Raiders will turn to former Bills starter EJ Manuel. Manuel is a four-year veteran with 17 starts. He says he will be ready for their game Sunday at home against the Baltimore Ravens.
Both teams are 2-2 and are coming off less-than-impressive performances. The Raiders (2-2) were beaten, 16-10, to the Broncos while the Ravens lost to the Steelers, 26-9.
“I treat it [game preparation] the same way because like you said, we could be walking out of the tunnel before the game and something could happen to the starter and you have to go play,” Manuel said at the Wednesday press conference. “You never want to be blindsided. That’s the last thing, as a backup, you never want to be blindsided going into a game. My preparation for this game hasn’t changed at all. Like I said, I still show up at the same time, still go home at the same time. Crossing all my T’s, dotting all my I’s like I have since my career started.”
This week, he faces a perennially strong Ravens defense, led by Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and Brandon Carr. Still, the Ravens have been outscored 70-16 in their last two games. The Ravens are banged up and boast the most players on IR in the entire league with 16. That includes defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Brett Urban, who will both miss the Oakland game. Without them the last two weeks, the Raven’s run defense has been ravaged by Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. This gives the Raiders some hope they might be able to get their own running game back on track.
On defense, the Raiders will face a Ravens team that has an effective running game averaging 127.3 yards per game. Raiders tackles Justin Ellis and rookie Eddie Vanderdoes will be challenged to stop the Baltimore ground attack.
Joe Flacco continues to be Flacco and may have trouble all day with Khalil Mack pressuring a Baltimore offensive line that continues to struggle protecting the quarterback. Oakland’s defensive backfield will be facing a Ravens receiving corp that averages only 142.5 yards per game. The matchups are favorable for the home team to be certain.
Oakland opened as a 4-point favorite, but has been bet down to 2.5 points. The over/under line is 52.5 points. Game time is 1:05 p.m.