The Ravens halted their three game losing streak following a familiar formula, running the ball and defense. But another aspect of their success will be the fact that they are returning home this week to M & T Bank Stadium as they host the Oakland Raiders as they love playing in front of the home crowd.
However this week wasn?t a smooth one. Reporters are still buzzing over Chris McAlister?s status for this week, as he is not listed on the injury report and with Samari Rolle still listed as out everyone wonders if he will resume his usual starting spot.
Couple that with the recent comments of Terrell Suggs, who implied that the Ravens put bounties on players (notably Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall) and that he thinks Troy Smith should start at quarterback. It?s been a busy week for the writers. But, in the end the fan has to wonder what if any of it will impact this Sunday?s game.
The Raiders are coming off an emotional win of their own as Sebastian Janikowski booted a 57 yarder in overtime to nab a win over the New York Brets. It was big for them in many ways, as it stopped a three game skid of their own and gave their new coach his first win since the Lane Kiffin drama. JaMarcus Russell has had mixed success and much like the Ravens young quarterback has shown flashes of skill but is still prone to rookie blunders. Oakland will need to lean on the tandem of Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas to loosen things up. The defense has been a bit bi-polar as they gave up oodles of yardage to Thomas Jones but held Bret Favre in check and picked him off twice. They will need a stronger game from their front seven.
Baltimore will want to get started quickly and keep the home fans cheering as their next three on the schedule will be away games but are also winnable games and as the midpoint is fast approaching teams will be gearing up for their playoff pushes. Joe Flacco must build on his solid performance in Miami and allow the running backs a chance to get the offense jump started.
The Ravens have a lot going for it in this matchup. They face a team that must run in order to be successful and the defense still has yet to allow a 100 yard rusher in an NFL leading 25 games. JaMarcus Russell has been a vastly different quarterback on the road but they must contain his top target Zach Miller, who will no doubt look to exploit the center of the field where Baltimore has been vulnerable. But, if Baltimore stays away from turnovers they should control the ball and should be able to ride the momentum of the home crowd to push themselves over .500.
Ravens 23 Raiders 10