By Abraham Gutierrez
2015 NFL schedule makers certainly did not do the (0-1) Oakland Raiders any favors when comprising matchups for the first two weeks of the season, as the Silver and Black host the second playoff team (from a year ago) in as many weeks. The O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California, will once again be overfilled with one of the most loyal fanbases in football when the (0-1) Baltimore Ravens look for their first win of the season at the Raiders’ expense.
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Opening kickoff is slated for Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. ET and CBS-Sports will be handling broadcasting duties for this battle of AFC foes. If history means anything, this is one of the least favorable matchups for Jack Del Rio to try and get into the win column as Raiders head coach.
Head-to-head series statistics shows that it’s been one-way traffic every time these teams have collided between the lines. John Harbaugh’s Ravens have dominated Oakland in their previous eight meetings, not only owning a commanding 7-1-0 lead in their overall series, but also come in riding a four-game winning streak.
The last time these teams met dates back to the 2012 NFL season, when they battled it out at M&T bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. In front of a sold out crowd, Baltimore came away with a 55-20 victory in a game that could only be described as a barnburner.
Ravens 2015 NFL Season Record
Baltimore kicked off the 2015 NFL campaign by traveling a mile into the sky, taking on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Week 1. In a surprising turn of events, offense was almost a non-factor in this one, as these teams combined to score only 32 points in what became a defensive struggle for four quarters.
Fittingly, the game would be decided on a Joe Flacco interception in the end zone, putting an end to what would have been the game-winning score for the visiting club. Uncharacteristically, Baltimore’s offense was handcuffed by a stoic Denver “D” limiting the Purple Pain to 11 first downs, 173 yards of total offense, and winning the crucial turnover battle 2-1.
“You win as a team, you lose as a team and we all know we can play better, to whatever degree it takes to win a football game,” said Harbaugh during his post-game press conference. “That’s what you strive to do and that’s what we’ll keep fighting to do.”
Ravens On Offense
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Coming off a miserable offensive outing, Del Rio and the Raiders should be very concerned heading into Week 2, as this game has all the makings of a blowout. With Week 1 in the books, the Ravens rank close to the bottom of the league in every major statistical category.
Under first-year offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, Baltimore’s offense will invade the Black Hole ranked a deceiving 24th in points (13 ppg), 28th in total yards (173 typg) and passing yards (100 pypg), and 23rd at running the football (73 rypg). You can bet that the former Bears head coach will open up his playbook against a Raiders defense that proved to have ample deficiencies in its opening loss to Cincinnati.
Ravens On Defense
The Baltimore Ravens are synonymous with great defenses, and fourth-year coordinator Dean Pees is a huge reason for this unit’s success. With a Super Bowl ring to show for, the 66-year-old from Dola, Ohio, appears poised for yet another dominant NFL campaign.
If the opener was any indication, the Ravens will wreck havoc on a weekly basis in 2015 no matter the opposition. Against the great Peyton Manning and a more-than capable Broncos offense, Purple Murder registered some eye-popping numbers, including rankings of ninth in points surrendered (19 ppga), second in total yards (219 typga) and passing yards (150 tpya) allowed, and of course, start Week 2 ranked fourth in the NFL against the rush (69 rypga).
On a bit of a sour note, the Ravens’ defense will have a huge void to fill with six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs being ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles tendon. The franchise’s all-time sacks leader (106.5 sacks) suffered the injury in the final stanza of the 19-13 loss at Sports Authority Field, as he was carted off the field with the game still up for grabs.
Ravens Players To Watch
On the offensive side of the football, quarterback Joe Flacco is always the focal point of opposing defenses. In his eighth season out of Delaware, the Audubon, New Jersey, native is already the franchise’s leader in career wins, passing touchdowns, passes attempted, pass completions and passing yards.
On defense, Del Rio’s staff must account for outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil at all times. The four-time Pro Bowler has been a sack machine during his 10 years in the NFL. The Louisville product is coming off his best season as a pro in that department, matching his career-best, 17 sacks a year ago. The fact that he got off to a slow start in Week 1 indicates the Miami, Florida, native will come out with a vengeance come Sunday afternoon in the East Bay.MORE NEWS: Pacers Stun Curry, Warriors 121-117 in Overtime
Abe Gutierrez’s passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers) and CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, aExaminer.com. and other online publications.