Oakland Raiders Week 2 Preview: Keys to the Game

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Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) carries the ball 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

4. Stop Justin Forsett

The key to stopping the Ravens offense will be to do exactly what the Denver Broncos were able to do last week: contain Justin Forsett. Forsett is an undersized but fast, dangerous back who averages over five yards per carry over the course of his career, and who just last year rushed for 1,266 yards averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He hits holes with great speed and can get to the edge and turn the corner as well as anyone in the game right now. He’s also a capable outlet receiver, and caught 44 passes for 263 yards last year.

Last week the Broncos stymied Forsett, holding him to 43 yards on 14 carries, with 20 of those yards coming on a single big play, meaning that he averaged less than 2 yards per carry on his other 13 carries. Without getting those yards from Forsett, the entire Ravens offense seemed mired for most of the game, and Joe Flacco was forced into taking sacks and throwing picks as he tried to pick up the slack.

The Raiders did not stop the run against Cincinnati, allowing Bengals running backs to amass a 4.6 yard per carry average against them while converting seven first downs and two touchdowns on the ground.  While Jeremy Hill averaged a paltry 3.3 yard per carry average, he scored twice. Giovani Bernard, meanwhile, who is much more like Forsett in his build, athleticism and game, killed the Raiders by rushing for 63 yards on only eight carries, including a 28 yard carry. Bernard only had three carries that gained less than five yards, and he also hurt the Raiders as a receiver, catching six passes for 25 yards.

The Raiders will need better play on the edge and significantly better linebacker play in order to contain Forsett, and they’ll have to do it against a Ravens offensive line that excels in creating space in the run game, even without Eugene Monroe. It will be an uphill battle, especially with Justin Ellis out, but look for Taylor Mays and Larry Asante to be called upon to assist in keeping the dangerous Forsett corralled.

Next: Keys to the Game: Use the Tight Ends