Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-2)
The big injury that gets attention in this game is the back injury to Derek Carr, who will be replaced by backup EJ Manuel at least this week, as he recovers from a small fracture. However, the Raiders are basically healthy other than that and the Ravens have lost significantly more to injury this year, with a league most 16 players on injured reserve. Their injuries issues have gone back to before the season even started, most importantly losing cornerback Tavon Young, tight end Dennis Pitta, and left guard Alex Lewis for the year before week 1.
Despite that, the Ravens started 2-0, but they have lost their last 2 games by a combined score of 70-16. What happened? Well, the competition has gotten tougher, as the Ravens’ wins came over the Bengals and the Browns and their losses have come against the Jaguars and Steelers. Their turnover margin has also regressed to the mean, as they’ve posted a -5 turnover margin over the past 2 weeks, after posting a +7 in the first 2 weeks of the season. But the biggest reason they’ve struggled has been the absence of guard Marshal Yanda and defensive tackle Brandon Williams, both of whom were healthy for the first 2 games. Those two were their best offensive and defensive linemen respectively.
Williams could be back in the next couple weeks, but Yanda is out for the year. The Ravens have struggled mightily offensively ever since Yanda when down, including in the 2nd half against the Browns week 2, which is no surprise because he’s arguably the best right guard in football. Without him and Williams against the Raiders, this is still far from an easy game, even with Manuel under center for the Raiders. Even without Carr, I have the Raiders 2 points better than the Ravens, so they should be favored by around 5 points here at home instead of 2.5. There’s enough line value here for a small bet on the Raiders.
Oakland Raiders 20 Baltimore Ravens 15
Pick against the spread: Oakland -2.5