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Game preview: Five keys for Ravens at Raiders

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Game preview: Five keys for Ravens at Raiders

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Asked if he was enjoying his week in California, Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman had a clever answer.

“I haven’t had time,” Trestman said. “I’ve been locked up in a hotel trying to find ways to throw the ball down the field more.”

The comment drew laughs, but the Ravens won’t be smiling if they lose to the Raiders on Sunday and fall to 0-2. Here are five keys for the Ravens in Sunday’s matchup.

1. Protect quarterback Joe Flacco.

He was hit 17 times Week 1 against the Broncos. That’s way too much. Now the Ravens face a Raiders team that has a decent pass rush, led by linebacker Khalil Mack. It doesn’t look like Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) will play, after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday. His replacement, James Hurst, and right tackle Rick Wagner were put on notice early in the week by head coach John Harbaugh. “Our tackles, they have to do a better job,” Harbaugh said. That needs to start Sunday.

2. The Ravens’ offensive line needs to create running room for Justin Forsett.

Justin Forsett was held to 43 yards on 14 carries in Week 1. A consistent running game Sunday will make it much easier for Trestman to setup play-action passes downfield for Flacco.

3. Flacco’s targets need to give him more help.

Steve Smith let a potential game-winning pass from Flacco slip through his hands in Denver. Ditto for tight end Crockett Gillmore. Concern about the Ravens not having enough weapons without injured wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) won’t end until wide receivers Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, and Darren Waller start making more plays.

4. Avoid giving the Raiders gift points.

The pick-six that Flacco threw against the Broncos was devastating. We saw the Broncos steal a win Thursday night in Kansas City, returning a Jamaal Charles fumble for a touchdown in the final minute. Give the Raiders points, and give their rabid fans a reason for hope, and the Ravens could find themselves in trouble.

5. Don’t take the Raiders for granted.

The Ravens are the better team, and the Raiders looked bad Week 1 against the Bengals. However, the Ravens can’t afford to start 0-2.  They lost a tough game in Denver, but after making the decision to spend the week in California before game, the Ravens need to justify that with an intense effort Sunday against a team they should beat.

 

 

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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