Monday night’s matchup features two of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. In 2020, the Ravens finished at the top of the league in total yards and yards per game. The Raiders, on the other hand, ranked 16th in both.
As for touchdowns, the Ravens had 24 on the ground, while the Raiders had 20. The difference between the two teams is how those yards are gained. While running back Josh Jacobs was the workhorse of the Raiders run game, the Baltimore employed more of a committee backfield.
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The Raven Backfield
As odd as that sounds, the Ravens had three players with over 100 attempts and 700 yards. To no surprise, QB Lamar Jackson led the group in both categories.
Then-rookie J.K. Dobbins was next in line on the ground and racked up over 800 yards as well. Gus Edwards rounded out the trio for Baltimore. However, only Jackson will take the field Monday as Dobbins and Edwards both suffered season-ending ACL injuries in the past month.
With those injuries, the Ravens have brought in veteran running backs Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, and Latavius Murray. Now, this begs the question of who will be the lead back? According to the Ravens’ current depth chart, second-year back Ty’Son Williams will be heading up the backfield.
More information on the subject came out during a press conference on Saturday. We learned that Williams will be given every opportunity to take control of the backfield in Monday’s game. He went undrafted in 2020 and has yet to play in the regular season. However, he did total 130 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts in the Ravens’ three preseason games.
What Does This Mean For Monday?
As it stands now, the Raiders have the edge when it comes to the running backs. The success of the group depends on how well the new offensive line performs. Based on reports, John Simpson will be starting at guard with Richie Incognito still battling a calf injury.
Obviously, the Raiders can still see success from their running backs, but in order for them to tip the scale, they will need help from the big guys. In my eyes, the Raiders game plan will look to win this game through the air, not on the ground.
As I mentioned earlier, Lamar was the biggest rushing threat on the Ravens last season. If the Raiders want to make this game competitive, the defensive ends need to seal the edge. He’s faster than the linebackers and shifty enough to make a player miss. Without good containment, this game could get ugly.
The Raiders should try to take advantage of Williams’ inexperience. With his lack of regular-season reps, forcing an early turnover could be a big shot to his morale. I understand that this should always be the goal. However, it is not often your opponent has only one option who has been with the team more than a week.
Monday will provide answers to some questions surrounding these teams.
For the Raiders, it will be offensive line play, their receiving core’s impact, and the defense’s improvement. For the Ravens, we will see if Ty’Son Williams be their bell-cow back, if their battered receiving core is a real threat, and how the secondary will play without Marcus Peters?
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