5 Keys to a Oakland Raiders victory against the Baltimore Ravens

A quick look at 5 keys to a Raiders victory as they take on the Baltimore Ravens

1. DJ Hayden versus Steve Smith, Sr. 

One of the most crucial matchups in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens will be cornerback DJ Hayden's coverage on veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. Hayden didn't play horribly last week, but did give up a touchdown to tight end Tyler Eifert. Hayden needs to make sure that he gets his head turned in time to make a play on the ball, something he has struggled with. Guarding Smith will go a long way in slowing down the Baltimore offense.

2. Limit Baltimore's rushing attack

The Raiders front seven had a tough time slowing down Bengals running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard last week. This week, they'll face former Cal running back Justin Forsett who is coming off of a big year after taking over for Ray Rice last season. The Ravens rely on a strong running game to make it possible to set up the play-action plays for big gains down the field, much of which will go to Steve Smith, Sr. Slowing down the rushing attack will go a long way in slowing down the Ravens offense. 

3. Establish the run

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave dialed up a passing attack to begin last week's game agains the Cinicinnati Bengals but it failed to work as the offense went three-and-out on their opening drive. The Raiders must have a different attack this week, setting up Latavius Murray and the rushing attack. Murray didn't have a bad week rushing the ball, gaining 44 yards on just 11 carries. Like the Ravens, the Raiders offense will be able to open up more down field if the Raiders can establish the run early and bring the Baltimore safeties into the box. 

4. Get Amari Cooper going and throw it deep

Musgrave tried getting his rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper going early last week, but didn't dial up many deep balls to the speedy receiver. By head coach Jack Del Rio's count, the team only threw it long twice, which was not enough to his admission. Carr and the Raiders must throw it deep more in order to spread the field, ultimately opening up more running lanes for Murray and the rushing attack.

5. Limit penalties

The Raiders only have five penalties for 32 yards last week, but they came at costly times. One of them was a holding call on the backside of a play that nullified a huge run by fullback Jamize Olawale that would have put the Raiders in the red zone. Del Rio's team must remain disciplined on the field and limit these penalties that could potentially push them back, especially the unnecessary roughness penalties that are so apparent from undisciplined teams.

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