The Raiders will be without star quarterback Derek Carr (back), and former Bills quarterback EJ Manuel will get the start. Manuel didn’t have many suitors when he hit free agency in March and received a one-year, $800,000 contract from the Raiders. He has a golden opportunity to prove he’s worth a lot more. The former first-round pick has a lot more weapons than he did in Buffalo. Joe Flacco was once considered one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but he has struggled the past few seasons.
After a hot start, Raiders running backs have been contained the past two games. Marshawn Lynch managed 12 yards on nine carries against the Broncos. The Ravens’ only bright spots on offense are running backs Alex Collins, Javorius Allen and Terrance West. The Ravens are ninth in rushing yards per game with 127.3.
Amari Cooper has had multiple lackluster performances and continues to drop balls at a high rate. Facing a mediocre Ravens secondary could help him break out this week. Michael Crabtree will return after missing last week’s game. With Flacco struggling, Ravens wideouts Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman have been quiet.
The Ravens had offensive line issues entering the season, but it got a lot worse after Marshal Yanda suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. Yanda is considered by many the NFL’s best guard. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, a Bishop Gorman High product, has the difficult task of slowing Khalil Mack. The Raiders’ offensive line has had a forgetful few weeks, but it’s still considered one of the NFL’s top lines.
Mack had a monster game versus the Broncos with two sacks and got to the quarterback often. Mario Edwards Jr. also had a solid outing for the Raiders. They could be in Flacco’s face often. Baltimore probably will be without defensive tackle Brandon Williams. Edge rusher Terrell Suggs is playing as he did during his prime.
C.J. Mosley continues to play like one of the NFL’s top linebackers. He leads the Ravens in tackles with 38, including 12 against the Steelers a week ago. Cory James leads the Raiders in tackles with 32.
The Raiders’ secondary had a surprising performance last week by holding Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to a combined 38 receiving yards. Safety Karl Joseph continues to come up with big plays. The Ravens could be without cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles). Eric Weddle is having a solid season for the Ravens.
Justin Tucker was the league’s best kicker last season. He’s off to a slow start this season and hasn’t had many opportunities. Tucker is 4 of 6 on field-goal attempts. The Raiders’ Cordarrelle Patterson ranks third in the NFL in kick return yards with a 29.7 average.
Will the Raiders’ offensive line give Manuel enough time to operate? History has shown that Manuel rushes throws. Suggs and Mosley will be going after him fast and often.
Micah Roberts (Sportsline.com): Ravens 17, Raiders 13 — The Raiders won 28-27 at Baltimore last season and 37-33 at Oakland in 2015, but Derek Carr played in both those games. E.J. Manuel will be Oakland’s quarterback this week, and he’s a 5 1/2-point downgrade. The Raiders have had trouble scoring the past two weeks with Carr at the helm, and I don’t see Manuel giving them a boost. The Ravens are also a mess, and Joe Flacco has been terrible, but they shouldn’t be getting points here.