Ravens Offense vs. League's Worst Raiders Defense
Baltimore's talented offense has yet to put it all together as the passing game is still getting its timing with new pieces and weapons that have missed significant time due to injury. The running game has been stagnant through three games. The Ravens offense has a prime opportunity to take off this week as it faces a Raiders defense that is ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed (476 per game). Oakland gave up 34 points in a Week 1 win and 35 points in a Week 2 loss. The Raiders have been particularly susceptible through the air, as they've allowed 340 passing yards per game.
Khalil Mack Brings Big-Time Threat
It's unknown whether rookie Ronnie Stanley (foot) will start at left tackle or whether it will be backup James Hurst. Either way, the Ravens have a massive test with Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack on the other side. Mack logged 15 sacks last year, and is one of the NFL's most talented young defenders. He's also itching to hit a quarterback as he hasn't notched a sack yet this season. And don't forget about speedy edge rusher Bruce Irvin, who the Raiders signed to a four-year, $37 million deal this offseason. Irvin has one sack so far this season.
A Dynamic Raiders Receiver Duo
The Ravens cornerbacks will face one of the NFL's best receiver duos in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cooper (270 yards) has the 11th-most receiving yards in the league and Crabtree (220) sits just outside the top 20. They each topped 100 yards and scored a touchdown in last year's meeting with the Ravens. Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright have played well overall, as the Ravens' pass defense ranks third (168.3), but Wright has had back-to-back games in which opponents attacked him.
The Impact Of Doom
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is set to make his 2016 debut Sunday, and it's not a moment too soon as the Ravens will need every bit of pass rush help to get to quarterback Derek Carr. Behind a massive offensive line featuring former Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele, the Raiders have surrendered just two sacks. Baltimore struggled to get to Carr in last year's loss in Oakland (one sack). But that was the first game without outside linebacker Terrell Suggs after he tore his Achilles. Sunday will mark the first time Suggs and Dumervil are on the field at the same time since Sept. 13, 2015. It remains to be seen how many snaps Dumervil will play.
Cross-Country Travel Effect
The Raiders flew to Tennessee last week and will be trekking back across the country again this week. That amount of travel takes a toll on big NFL bodies, and it will be interesting to see how much it affects the Raiders, especially at the start of the game. Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff at M&T Bank Stadium will feel like 10 a.m. for them. The Raiders will get no sympathy from the Ravens, who made three trips west last year.