Oakland Raiders Week 2 Preview: Keys to the Game

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Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) sits on the ground after an injury to his left lower leg in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1. Exploiting Ravens Injuries

The Ravens enter Sunday’s game down three key players: outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, and rookie wideout Breshad Perriman. These are major losses for the Ravens and should create some matchup advantages for the Raiders to exploit on Sunday.

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  • Without Suggs, the Ravens lose a player who accounted for 22 sacks over the past two seasons and who is the last connection to the great Ravens defenses of the 2000’s. Despite being in his 14th year in the league, Suggs is still a menacing pass rusher. The Ravens do still have Elvis Dumervil, however, a player the Raiders know all to well from his time in Denver. Dumervil had an eye-popping 17 sacks for the Ravens last season, five more than Suggs, and he’s still perfectly healthy and in his late prime.

    The Ravens also added Jason Babin this week, but Babin hasn’t had a double-digit sack year since 2011 and only managed 2.5 sacks last year. Behind Babin and Dumervil are Courtney Upshaw and rookie Za’Darius Smith, the former is not a pass rusher per se and the latter had only 10.5 sacks over two seasons at Kentucky. If Dumervil can be taken out of the picture, there isn’t really a second horse on that Ravens defense to pressure Derek Carr off the edge.

    The loss of Eugene Monroe and Breshad Perriman might mean certain doom for the Ravens passing game, meanwhile. The Raiders will look to utilize both Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith together as often as possible tomorrow, and with Monroe out, the start will likely go to second-year man James Hurst, who will have a tough assignment facing either Smith or Mack protecting Joe Flacco’s blindside.

    Without Perriman, the Ravens will have one real threat at wideout in Steve Smith, who can of course go off. But if the Raiders are able to slow him down on quick routes, Flacco may be pressured into picks like he was against Denver last week, or Mack and Smith may be able to log the Raiders first sacks of the season.

    Next: Keys to the Game: Managing Week 1 Injuries