Week 17: Ravens vs Raiders Preview


Opening Thoughts
It’s the final game and also the biggest game of the season for the Ravens.  If they win, they play on.  If they lose, their season is done.  Simple as that.  In fact, you could easily make the argument that it’s the biggest game of the year for the Raiders as well.  The opportunity to knock a team out of the playoffs for the second straight season, and in turn, finishing out a not-so-mediocre 6-10, the Raiders would love to show off for the NFL.  It will be very tough however, with Charlie Frye as their starting quarterback and the Ravens returning all of their starters from injury.  The team is hungry, and if they play to their full potential, the Raiders don’t stand a chance when they’re playing for their postseason hope.

Key Matchup

  • Ravens O-Line vs Raiders D-Line (specifically Richard Seymour): Seymour is always a handful for opposing teams, and if Jared Gaither plays left tackle and Michael Oher is right tackle as planned, Oher will be the one keeping Seymour away from Joe Flacco.  Oher is big and athletic enough, but Seymour wears guys down as the game goes on, so Oher’s protection will be key if the game is close. 
  • Derrick Mason vs Nmandi Asomugha: Mason has been Flacco’s favorite downfield target by far, and has kept the Ravens in some games with some big catches (and also put them out of some with his drops).  Asomugha is one of the league’s best at shutting down receivers.  The reason he doesn’t intercept many passes?  The ball never gets thrown near him.  The key will be Mason getting open just a few times to catch the ball so that the Raiders defense doesn’t overload on other options, and respect that Mason is dangerous.
  • Zach Miller vs Ravens Linebackers: Miller has been a huge threat in the receiving game this year, with 59 receptions and 767 yards out of the tight end slot, being the team’s leader in both of those categories.  In addition to his ability downfield, he can block very well.  If linebackers cover him, they will need to step up and keep him under control.

Injury Report
BALTIMORE: T Oneil Cousins (quest.), LB Tavares Gooden (quest.), WR Derrick Mason (quest.), S Ed Reed (quest.), LB Terrell Suggs (quest.), CB Cary Williams (quest.), T Jared Gaither (prob.), LB Jarrett Johnson (prob.), DE Trevor Pryce (prob.)

OAKLAND: QB Bruce Gradkowski (out), RB Justin Fargas (doubt.), T Langston Walker (doubt.), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (quest.), S Tayvon Branch (quest.), DE Greg Ellis (quest.), CB Chris Johnson (quest.), DT Gerard Warren (prob.)
I think the Raiders just aren’t good enough, especially with Gradkowski out and Chris Johnson hampered by a hamstring injury, giving Mark Clayton an advantage against him.  Expect Clayton to have a big game, but also expect a valiant effort from the Raiders.  28-17 Ravens.