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Week 2 preview: Ravens at Raiders

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Baltimore Ravens (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at o.Co Coliseum, Alameda, Calif. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: The Ravens traveled to California following last week’s victory in Denver and practiced at San Jose St. to avoid consecutive cross-country trips. Of bigger concern than the travel is the state of the offensive line, which was bullied by the Broncos. The Raiders don’t boast the same formidable front seven, but are improving and led by emerging second-year star Khalil Mack. Ravens QB Joe Flacco needs more help from his ground game because he lacks receivers who gain quick separation and he made multiple poor decisions with the ball when under pressure last week.

Raiders QB Derek Carr practiced without issue on Wednesday and is expected to play after leaving last week’s game with a hand injury. Oakland would like to stretch the field more after RB Latavius Murray led the team in catches (seven) and carries (11) last week. The first task is avoiding a double-digit hole in the first half and being able to stay committed to the ground game. The second is providing Carr with strong protection against a stout front seven that could quickly flip the game with a few turnovers.

*Matchup to watch – Ravens LT James Hurst vs. Raiders RDE Justin Tuck: Hurst struggled when Eugene Monroe left with a concussion last week, and Monroe’s status for this week is uncertain. Baltimore’s offensive line is a question mark almost across the board. Tuck, 32, isn’t the force he once was, but had two passes defensed last week and the Ravens also can’t afford to give Monroe or Hurst much help while also game-planning for Mack.

*Player spotlight – OLB Za’Darius Smith, Ravens: Baltimore added veteran Jason Babin for depth following Terrell Suggs’ season-ending Achilles injury, but it’s the rookie Smith who is in line for a significant role in rotation with Elvis Dumervil at rush linebacker after being inactive Week 1.

*Fast facts: Flacco needs one touchdown pass to become the first Raven to reach 150 for his career. He’s 3-0 lifetime vs. the Raiders with a 116 passer ratings. … Murray is averaging 90.3 scrimmage yards in four career starts.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Raiders are an improved team despite last week’s blowout loss to the Bengals, but the Ravens are hungry after largely shutting down Peyton Manning only to lose a tight game in Denver. In another game dominated by defense, Baltimore still has more difference-makers on that side of the ball.

*Our pick: 20-16


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