The Baltimore Ravens and the Oakland Raiders halted their respective three-game losing streaks last weekend. Now each club will be looking to improve their positioning in their tightly bunched division races.
The Ravens and Raiders look to make it two wins in a row Sunday when they meet at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore (3-3) opened the season with back-to-back victories for the first time since starting 4-0 in 2006, but was unable to continue that success and went on to lose three straight - a stretch capped by a miserable 31-3 defeat at Indianapolis in Week 5, during which it allowed 334 yards.
The Ravens defense - which has held opponents to a league-low 257.0 yards per game - had another rough performance when it surrendered a season-high 359 yards last Sunday, but the team managed to come away with a 27-13 victory at Miami.
The win kept Baltimore two games behind first-place Pittsburgh in the AFC North, and moved it one game ahead of third-place Cleveland, which lost to Washington.
"This was going to make or break our season," said defensive end Terrell Suggs, whose 44-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Ravens a lead they wouldn't relinquish. "When you lose three or four games in a row, players are only human, and they stop believing. We've got guys believing."
Suggs scored the first touchdown of his six-year career and finished with seven tackles and a sack to earn AFC defensive player of the week honors.
The two-time Pro Bowler has 49 career sacks and is two shy of tying Michael McCrary for second on the Ravens' all-time list.
"He's got that great intangible that all good defensive players have: He's going to get his hands on you and is not going to stay blocked," interim Oakland coach Tom Cable said. "He's a tremendous pass rusher, he really is a very good football player, kind of a complete football player."
Oakland (2-4) will challenge Suggs and the Ravens defense this weekend as it looks to build on a solid offensive performance last Sunday. The Raiders amassed 344 yards against the visiting New York Jets in a 16-13 overtime victory - the first under Cable, who replaced the fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30.
JaMarcus Russell went 17-for-30 for 203 yards and a touchdown, and came through with two big completions in overtime to set up Sebastian Janikowski's franchise-record 57-yard field goal.
Janikowski, named AFC special teams player of the week for the third time in his career, has totaled 855 points and needs nine to surpass Hall of Famer George Blanda as the Raiders' all-time leading scorer.
Despite last weekend's thrilling win, Oakland knows it needs to play better if it wants to win its second straight this week. The Raiders' biggest area of concern continues to be penalties, as they were whistled a season-high 14 times for 85 yards Sunday and have committed 49 penalties on the season - tied for the sixth-most in the league.
"This penalty thing is ridiculous," said Cable, whose team moved within 1 1/2 games of first-place Denver in the AFC West. "We've got to address it, not that we haven't in the past. But it's got to continue to be a point of emphasis."
Cable also needs a better performance from a defense that has allowed 377.7 yards per game - sixth-worst in the NFL. The Raiders allowed 418 yards against the Jets, the third time this season Oakland has given up 400 yards.
Oakland, though, will face a Baltimore offense that averages 17.5 points and 313.7 yards - both of which rank 26th in the league.
Rookie Joe Flacco went 17-for-23 for 232 yards and a touchdown versus Miami, and Willis McGahee ran 19 times for a season-best 105 yards and a TD for the Ravens.
Baltimore is seventh in the league with 134.3 rushing yards per game, while Oakland's run defense has surrendered 136.2 a contest.
"I'm sure Oakland is going to be cranked up to stop that running game, so we've got to find a way to run it against them, and to throw it and to run the screen game and to protect the quarterback and all the things we have to do," first-year coach John Harbaugh told the Ravens' official Web site.
Baltimore has won three of its four meetings with Oakland. The teams haven't played since the Ravens' 28-6 home victory Sept. 17, 2006.