5 Things To Watch vs. Raiders


Coming off a tough loss in Week 1, the Ravens will try to even their record and finish their road trip on a positive note Sunday in Oakland.

Here are five things to watch:

Adjustments Without Suggs
This will be the first game without outside linebacker Terrell Suggs since Dec. 30, 2012, when he sat out a virtually meaningless regular-season finale. With Suggs out for the rest of the year due to his torn Achilles, this will be the game to see how the Ravens adjust. Elvis Dumervil will take on more run-stopping responsibilities, but others will also be in the mix to help offset the loss of the defensive leader. Watch for rookie Za'Darius Smith to perhaps make his debut and newly-signed pass rusher Jason Babin could be chasing after quarterbacks too.

Deep Shots For Ravens Offense
Quarterback Joe Flacco was pretty clear that he wants to take more deep shots in the passing game than the Ravens did in Week 1, when Baltimore completed just one pass of more than 20 yards. Baltimore doesn't have rookie speedster Breshad Perriman, but that doesn't mean shots can't be taken. Wide receivers Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken will be looking to prove they can step up and be threats opposite Steve Smith Sr.

Slowing Oakland's Pass Rush
Denver has one of the best outside linebacker duos with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The Raiders aren't too shabby themselves with pass rushers Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith and Justin Tuck. Harbaugh called the Raiders' group the strength of their team. Meanwhile, Baltimore may again be without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) after having trouble protecting Flacco last week. The Ravens need to give Flacco more time in the pocket to get their offense back on track, and if they're going to try those deep passes.

Jumpstarting The Run Game
The Ravens offensive line deserves watching for more than just pass protection. The strength of Baltimore's offense was supposed to be the running attack behind a returning starting offensive line. That didn't work out in Denver, as the Ravens put up just 73 rushing yards on 23 attempts. The Ravens particularly need to do a better job running the ball on first down to put themselves in more manageable situations. The possible return of backup Lorenzo Taliaferro should help.

Secondary Consistency
Baltimore's defensive backs shut down Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. The Raiders don't have a quarterback of similar stature, but Oakland does have some dangerous weapons at wide receiver with Michael Crabtree and rookie first-round pick Amari Cooper. Jimmy Smith had one of his best games last week, but in order to be considered one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks, he needs to do it week after week. Keep an eye on whether he can put on another show in his home state of California.

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