After last week, the last thing the Oakland Raiders needs is fort their season to go into a tailspin. Unfortunately for them, that is exactly what might happen when the Silver and Black travel across the country to take on the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens might be the strangest 6-2 in the NFL because the stats don’t back up the team’s performance on the field. Baltimore is 28th in run defense and 22nd in pass defense, but it still has what is widely considered one of the best defenses in the league. It ranks 17th in rushing yards despite having one of the best running backs in the league and the Ravens rank 15th in passing yards with a Pro-Bowl level quarterback under center. So while the stats say Oakland has a shot with staying with them, the perception says it doesn’t.
There is only one place to start a breakdown of the Ravens and that is of course on defense. They have what is widely considered one of the fiercest units in football, but the stats don’t back them up this year. Obviously, the loss of Ray Lewis, with a triceps injury is a devastating blow given how much energy and leadership Lewis gave the defense. However, the talent is there to compensate for not having their leader on the field. Terrell Suggs is back from an Achilles injury and ready to make an impact and Courtney Upshaw is also a very skilled linebacker. The defensive line anchored by Haloti Ngata is as fierce as can be and we haven’t gotten to the secondary yet. Baltimore has two ball hawking safeties in Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard and the cornerbacks are of a high level.
On offense, all the tools are there to be a successful team in the NFL. Ray Rice is an elite running back in this league and although he only has 622 yards so far this season, he is averaging nearly five yards per carry and has scored six times on the ground. There is no doubt that Rice can have an excellent game is needed. Joe Flacco may be the most underrated quarterback in the league, but his 10 touchdowns and six interceptions leaves much to be desired. He is just shy of 2,000 yards through the air and his completion percentage is less than 60 percent. Another stat on paper that doesn’t tell the entire story. The receiving corps has been as dependable as can be led by Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, but the offensive line leaves much to be desired, allowing 19 sacks so far this season.
At the end of the day, numbers can tell a story, but that doesn’t mean that story is always accurate. There are so many contradictory stats in a game that you need to fish out the right ones or you’ll be confused. The Ravens may not look like it on paper, but they are 6-2 and still an elite team in this league, capable of making a run at the Super Bowl.