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A stellar performance from utility running back Jalen Richard gave the Raiders a much-needed win in Week 11. This week they face a much tougher opponent in the Baltimore Ravens, the best defensive team in the league.

In the win last week, Richard had one of his best games in the silver and black. He ran 11 times for 61 yards, an average of 5.5 yards per carry, converting three of those runs into first downs. Not only was he good on the ground, but he also had three receptions for 32 yards. He is quickly turning into an every-down back.

This week will be a harder task, but Richard is up to the challenge. The Ravens allow just 94.6 yards rushing and 205 passing per game in 2018. These are the best defensive stats of any team in the league.

The key for the Raiders and Richard to get into the Ravens secondary is going to be play-action routes. Let Richard roll out to the edge to get in behind the front line and receive a quick pass from quarterback Derek Carr.

This tends to work best when both running backs are on the field together. Use Doug Martin as the decoy allowing the line the push forward and Richard to get into the secondary.

During the week head coach, Jon Gruden compared Richard to the great Raiders running back Charlie Garner.

“He might be the MVP of this team,” Gruden said in Monday’s press conference. He could run for 1,000 yards and catch for 1,000 yards someday. He is tough, hard to tackle. And he can line up in the slot or outside.”

This is a big compliment for a young player who is still finding his feet in his third year in Oakland.

Upset On The Mind

Since the departure of Amari Cooper and the injury to Jordy Nelson, tight end Jared Cook has been one of the Raiders best receivers. He will need to be on his game to get the better of the Ravens this week.

Cook will probably line up against Marlon Humphrey, Terrell Suggs or Matt Judon. These three players are defensive weapons for the Ravens and will make Cook’s life difficult all game.

The tight end has great hands and has an unmatched ability to shake a defender. He will need to use all the tricks in his book to get away from these defenders. The key will again be quick passes from Carr to his man, then let Cook use his size to find pockets in the defense.

None of these things will be possible unless Carr finds the same form he had in the win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Despite the Raiders 2-8 record, the numbers suggest Carr has been a pretty good quarterback in 2018. He has completed 247-of-350 passes for 2,633 yards. These numbers give him a completion rate of over 70 percent.

He has 12 touchdowns to eight interceptions and has been sacked 32 times. These numbers are why the Raiders are 2-8. If the Raiders can protect Carr, they can have a chance at beating the Ravens on Sunday.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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