3TFO: Raiders @ Ravens, Week 10
After wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders missed the chance to get back to .500 at the mid point of the season when their comeback attempt at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell short. At 3-5 they now travel to take on the Baltimore Ravens, knowing that the Denver Broncos are beginning to take charge of the AFC West.
The Ravens continue to win without looking dominant and, while it’s good to be 6-2, many are questioning just how good they really are. That’s going to be tested with a tough second half schedule that puts pressure on them to win on Sunday to maintain their lead at the top of the division.
Three wins separate the two teams but that doesn’t necessarily mean this should be a blowout — here’s the three key areas to focus on in this Week 10 game.
Raiders Offensive Line vs. Ravens Pass Rush
As a unit, the Raiders’ offensive line has allowed 91 pressures from 348 passing plays giving them a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of 79.8, which ranks 19th in the league. Of those 91 pressures allowed, 31 alone have come against right tackle Willie Smith. Surrendering four sacks, nine hits, and 18 quarterback hurries on 282 snaps as a pass blocker, he has a PBE Rating of 91.4; bad enough to rank as our sixth-worst pass blocking offensive tackle in that regard. Thankfully, the rest of the line isn’t quite as bad, with Jared Veldheer our joint 19th offensive tackle in terms of PBE with a rating of 95.7.
After returning with a bang against the Houston Texans, Terrell Suggs was held to just a hit and a hurry against the Cleveland Browns last week. With five pressures from 49 snaps as a pass rusher since his return, he has a Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) Rating of 8.2. While that is lower than the Ravens’ lesser-used outside linebacker Albert McClellan (PRP Rating of 11.0), he’s still a more productive pass rusher than Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw who have struggled to generate much pass rush this season with PRP Ratings of 6.6 and 6.1 respectively. Coming on in recent weeks with an increase in snaps due to Ray Lewis’ injury, keep an eye on Dannell Ellerbe. Rushing the passer just 42 times this season, his 11 total pressures registered gives him a PRP Rating of 22.0, best in the league among inside linebackers playing at least 50% of their teams’ defensive snaps.
Raiders Defensive Backs vs. Ravens Wide Receivers
Playing 234 snaps in coverage so far this season, Raiders cornerback Patrick Lee has yet to allow a touchdown. Allowing just 250 yards through the air in the first half of the season, he comes into the game giving up a reception once every 12.3 snaps in coverage. While those numbers aren’t too bad, the one concerning aspect of his game has been the 126 yards after the catch he has allowed, not helped by the fact that he has missed six tackles. Opposite him, Michael Huff has allowed four touchdowns to be caught in his coverage. Targeted once every 5.6 snaps by opposing quarterbacks, he’s allowing a reception once every 10.4 cover snaps.
For Baltimore, Anquan Boldin continues to be reliable, despite scoring just the one touchdown this season. Helped by the fact that he has at least one reception of 20 yards or more in six of eight games this season, he is averaging 14.2 yards per catch. Used in the slot when the Ravens go into a three-receiver set, Boldin has seen most of his action here with 29 of the 54 passes thrown to him coming from the slot. While he has improved some as an all-around receiver, as evidenced by his game-winning touchdown against the Browns last week, Torrey Smith’s calling card is still that he’s one of the biggest deep threats in the league. In fact, 25 of the 56 passes thrown to him this year have come on throws of 20 yards or longer, and the 284 yards receiving he has on those throws is fourth among all wide receivers.
Can the Raiders Run Defense Bounce Back?
After being gashed on the ground by Doug Martin and the Buccaneers on Sunday, the Raiders now have to deal with one of the best running backs in the league, and his emerging backup. With 873 yards from scrimmage so far this season, Ray Rice continues to be a big threat both as a runner and a receiver. Forcing 19 missed tackles on 162 combined touches this season and averaging 2.5 yards after contact per run, he has an Elusive Rating of 29.3 so far this season. His backup has impressed in limited duty also and, after scoring his first career touchdown last week, Bernard Pierce looks set to see more carries as the season goes on. On a much lower snap count than Rice, Pierce has an Elusive Rating of 88.2, with seven missed tackles from 32 touches on offense. With a defense that has missed 55 tackles this season, with linebackers Philip Wheeler and Miles Burris the biggest offenders with 14 between them, the Raiders will have their work cut out for them on Sunday.
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