After losing two straight games, the Raiders desperately need to stop their slide. Look for Oakland to do that by going "Beast Mode."
With starting quarterback Derek Carr out with a back injury and backup EJ Manuel in his place, the Raiders figure to attack the Baltimore Ravens on the ground early Sunday, with heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.
Last week, the Raiders’ running game was missing in action. Lynch gained just 12 yards on nine carries. But Baltimore hasn’t been good against the run. In losing last week to the Steelers, the Ravens gave up 144 yards on the ground to Le’Veon Bell. They rank 26th in the league in rushing defense, allowing more than 127 yards per game.
The Ravens certainly are aware they’re likely to see Lynch over and over again.
“We’ve got ‘Beast Mode’ this week,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “You definitely don’t want to (try to) get back on track with this guy.”
Added Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh: “Lynch is one of the best running backs in the league. He has a very unique style: he is a very violent runner. He never stops turning, and he breaks tackles.”
The Raiders certainly need to establish the running game early and get some quick scores Sunday. Over the past two games the offense has turned sluggish, after looking explosive the first two games. In fact, in consecutive losses to Washington and Denver, the Raiders didn’t get a first down in either first quarter.
The offensive line, a dominant unit to start the season, has been less effective. To get Lynch and Co. some running room and Manuel some time – and confidence – that group must be better.
“We’re a better unit than we’ve shown offensively the last two weeks, no question,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters this week. “It hasn’t been good enough and it’s led directly to losses, two losses.”
Oakland tight end Lee Smith believes the Raiders will be fine if they just get back to basics this week. That means running the ball, blocking well and everybody handling their own assignments.
“Farm your own land,” he said. “That’s all we need to do. At the end of the day, everyone is trying to solve the world’s problems. Here in this locker room as far as football is concerned, everyone has to do their job and everything will be fine. Don’t try to do too much. Nobody needs to try to be a hero now that Derek is down.”
Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. Sunday between the Raiders and Ravens, who both are 2-2. The Raiders are 2½-point favorites.