TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 10: Oakland Raiders At Baltimore Ravens

Raiders
Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders
AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Quarterback
Carson Palmer is starting to hit his stride for the Raiders, and that means they are developing a fairly exciting passing game. Palmer was forced to go to the air 61 times against the Bucs and he threw for 414 yards while throwing 4 TD passes. Palmer would be better off if he had a complementary running game, but he proved he could stand in the pocket and take the abuse while making plays.
Winner Joe Flacco is a legitimate quarterback who wants to prove he belongs with the elite players at his position in the league. Flacco is coming off an ordinary game in the Ravens’ road win over Cleveland. While he did not light it up, he did not throw an interception and his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Torrey Smith was the difference in the game.
Offense
Running back Darren McFadden is probably the key to the Raiders offense because he runs hard every play. The Raiders took a big blow when McFadden had to come out of the game after seven carries with an ankle injury. While X-rays were negative, he may not be at his best against the Ravens. Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey are solid targets for Palmer.
Winner While the Ravens have solid receivers in Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, the offense is largely dependent on the play of Ray Rice. He’s one of the toughest and most dynamic running backs in the league. Boldin is a fine possession receiver while Smith can go downfield and make big plays.
Defense
The Raiders struggled against the Tampa Bay offense. The biggest issue was their inability to stop the run, as rookie Doug Martin punished them for 251 yards and four touchdowns. If they can get battered like that by Martin, how will they hang in there with Baltimore’s Rice. Defensive lineman Richard Seymour has to do a better job.
Winner The Ravens have several defensive issues, not the least of which is the absence of middle linebacker Ray Lewis. While that’s obviously a problem, some Ravens are stepping up. Keep your eye on young cornerback Cary Lewis who had an interception against the Browns and also led the Ravens with six tackles. Ed Reed once again had an interception and he has to be accounted for on every play.
Special Teams
Winner Sebastian Janikowski is not ready to give up his unofficial title of the kicker with the strongest leg just yet. He has made 19-of-20 field goal attempts this season. Shane Lechler averaged 54.5 yards on four punts against the Bucs.
The Ravens are hoping for steady play from steady play from special teams after last year’s nightmarish experience with placekicker Billy Cundiff. Head coach John Harbaugh is getting just what he needs as kicker Justin Tucker has made 15-of-16 field goal attempts this season.

The Winner Is

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Winner Ravens
3 out of 4

This looks like it should be an easy game for the Ravens since they are playing at home against a team that struggles to scratch out its wins. However, Palmer is throwing the ball well and the Raiders have weapons. If the Ravens don’t play their best game, they could struggle and this game could be an upset possibility.

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