5 Questions With Ebony Bird: Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens

Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) meets with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub (8) after the Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33 at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) meets with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub (8) after the Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33 at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

Ahead of the Week 4 matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens, we reached out to FanSided’s Baltimore blog, Ebony Bird, with some questions.

Another vaunted trip the Eastern Seaboard is on the horizon for the Raiders which, as of late, has not been good to them.

The amount of current Raiders who have actually been a part of those past losses is slim, but maybe having three out of four games on the road to start the season doesn’t help much for recovery and rest.

The Raiders are still looking for a complete game, as are the the 3-0 Ravens. High powered offense versus a dominating defense, veteran head coaches, young gunslingers and question marks on both sides of the ball, this Sunday’s matchup could be one of the better games across the league.

I felt like talking about it, and so did Chris Schisler, our friend over at Ebony Bird — so that’s what we did. Here are five questions about the upcoming AFC battle.

Note: Just Blog Baby is in bold.

How do you feel about this 3-0 start, and are the Raiders this team’s first formidable opponent?

It feels like the Ravens are back. We’ve never made it easy, but we’ve won. The Ravens have not played a great opponent yet. However, the Browns are a division rival and the Jaguars have talent despite their obvious weaknesses. So the Ravens have been tested.

That being said, nobody takes a 3-0 team seriously whose opponents are a combined 1-8. The Ravens have to prove themselves. The Raiders are by far the best team the Ravens have seen to this point. The defense is for real though; and after a 5-11 season, Baltimore is pumped.

You are absolutely right — Baltimore is always in the hunt, no matter how ugly it is. John Harbaugh knows how to win any type of game, which consistently makes them scary. A win is a win, no matter how it gets delivered.

What I find very similar to seasons past, is that Baltimore has never been known for their high powered offense, it has always been defense, so what makes this season, at least up to this point, any different? They know what they need to do, and plan on doing it. But I’m also sure they wouldn’t mind Pittsburgh losing by 30 a couple more times, would they?

Talk to me a little bit about the left side of this offensive line. Is Stanley still in a boot? What are the alternate options looking like at this point?

It does not look good for Ronnie Stanley. The rookie left tackle has not practiced this week. If he can go, the Ravens will play him, but that in itself is nerve racking. Left guard Alex Lewis is also banged up a bit. If Lewis does not pass concussion protocol and Stanley is out, we could see James Hurst and Ryan Jensen. In other words, the struggling offense would be in a tough spot.

Always a dicey situation when the guys up front start falling, and without a steady run game in the holster, covering up that flaw makes it even more difficult.

Speaking of that run game, Oakland’s run defense has been anything but good, to say the least. Same could be said (or may have just been said) about Baltimore’s run offense. Are we going to see more of Justin Forsett or Terrance West?

Your guess is as good as mine. So far it’s been an even mix. Harbaugh tends to go with the hot hand but nobodies hands are even warm. Forsett is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, while West is getting just 3.6 yards per attempt. If the offensive line was healthy I’d say this was a potential get right game for the rushing attack.

Who is going to be the X-Factor for Baltimore’s game plan (offense or defense)?

I’m in a generous mood so I’ll give you one on each side of the ball. On offense, Mike Wallace is where the big play comes. He could not hold onto his touchdown pass this past week but he’s had the only three receiving touchdowns for the Ravens this year.

On defense, it looks like Elvis Dumervil is coming back. That means the number two defense in the NFL is getting stronger. Dumervil is a real difference maker because teams can’t double-team Terrell Suggs all day. With young pass rushers playing well, this could be bad for Derek Carr.

This could potentially be a big play type of performance that Mike Wallace is known for. Sean Smith does not play well against smaller, quicker receivers (shout out to Steve Smith, too). Any chance that matchup is put in play, look for Flacco to try and take advantage.

Also, no need to remind Raiders fans about Dumervil and the chaos he can create. We saw him plenty while he was in Denver, and while up to the challenge, this offensive line will be on their heels more often than not.

You have a prediction for us?

I hope I’m wrong but this smells like a Raiders win. The Ravens offense has been bad this year, and the banged up offensive line could setup for an ugly game. It should be an ugly game all around.

However, the Ravens defense will make Carr’s life miserable. I think the Ravens will shut down the Raiders for most of the game. But without offensive support, the dam will break.

Give me the Raiders, 18-17. I hope I’m wrong.

Next: Raiders Keys to Victory