Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
When: Sunday, November 11 at 1 p.m. ET
On TV: CBS, DirecTV: 707
On radio: Sirius XM 139
Live streaming: NFL Audio Pass
Betting odds: Ravens (-7 ½)
The Baltimore Ravens and the Oakland Raiders face off on Sunday in their first meeting since 2009. The Raiders make their third of five 2012 cross-country trips to face a Ravens team that is seemingly indomitable at home.
The 3-5 Raiders beat Baltimore rival the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the year. Their two other wins come against the Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8). Meanwhile, Baltimore's 6-2 record is hardly representative of a team that has struggled mightily on defense and stalled out offensively at times.
Keys to the game
Can Carson Palmer take advantage of the Ravens injury-plagued defense?
This isn't your grandfather's Ravens defense. The Ravens historically dominant defense hasn't been striking fear in anyone this year. Back in the days when the words defense and Ravens were synonymous, Carson Palmer still managed to have success against Baltimore.
Palmer, who spent 6 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, has an all-time record of 9-4 against the Ravens. Now, in command of the Raiders offense, Palmer is surrounded by a lot of speed. While the Raiders would like to test Baltimore's shaky run defense, injuries will probably dictate that Palmer airs the ball out. This could spell trouble for the Ravens secondary.
Jimmy Smith, who is starting at cornerback after Lardarius Webb's season-ending ACL tear, will likely face Darius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey is a double-move threat, and Smith has been biting on the double-move all year. Palmer has always had a knack for finding weaknesses in the Ravens defense, and for the first time in his career, he won't have to look too hard.
Can the Ravens continue their excellence in the red zone?
The Ravens penchant for winning games without dominating can in part be attributed to their success in the red zone. On both sides of the ball, the Ravens have gotten the job done inside the 20-yard line. Against Cleveland, Baltimore was 3-for-3 in the red zone, while holding the Browns to 0-for-5.
Overall, the Ravens are ranked sixth in the red zone on offense and third on defense. If they once again turn in topnotch performances in the red zone, it's unlikely that Oakland can turn the Ravens weaknesses into a Raiders victory.
Can Oakland fix the issues with their run defense?
Rookie Doug Martin made news across the NFL when he ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns last week in Tampa Bay's victory over the Raiders. Now, the Raiders will face one of the best running backs in the league in Ray Rice. The Raiders' main breakdown against Martin and the Buccaneers seemed to be execution, rather than schematics. Essentially, the Raiders didn't tackle well.
Rice, who is similar in size and stature to Martin, is shifty and quick. He's difficult to stop by going low, and he uses his smaller size to his advantage. Oakland could be facing a blowout if they are not fundamentally sound in their approach to bringing down Rice and the number two running back, Bernard Pierce.
The Ravens have the longest home win streak in the NFL. Their offense, so prone to dozing on the road, has been highly productive at M&T Bank Stadium. The only way the Raiders will come away with a win is if the Ravens beat themselves. At home, that hasn't happened in 14 games.
Ravens 30, Raiders 17