By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
AP file photo: Oakland Raider quarterback Derek Carr (4) during an audible against the Tennessee Titans Sun Sep 25th will throw against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday
OAKLAND, Calif — With all due respect to the Atlanta Falcons, who gave Oakland their only loss on the young season: you are still a suspect team with an inconsistent pass rush and a quarterback in Matt Ryan that is a great fantasy football league stat filler, not a championship quarterback.
Or the New Orleans Saints and the Tennessee Titans, whom Oakland has defeated this season.
Oakland faces their toughest test yet of the season, against Ravens team in Baltimore Sunday in Week 4 in a game that could have a significant determine playoff seeding in the AFC.
Sunday’s game will showcase the NFL’s second-ranked offense in the Raiders, who are averaging 436 yards and 26.7 points per game (Atlanta leads the NFL, averaging 448 yards and 34.7 points per game), against Baltimore, who are just allowing 254.3 yards and 14.7 points game, second behind Seattle’s 250.3 yards and 12.3 points per game.
Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr lit up a depleted Ravens’ defense in the two team’s match up last season in Oakland, throwing for a career-high 351 yards on 30-of-46 passes, three touchdowns and one interception in the Raiders’ 37-33 victory.
Carr’s 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 26 seconds left in the game capped off a 9-play, 80-yard drive after Carr went 7-of-9 on the final drive.
Last week, Carr completed 21-of-35 for 249 yards, one touchdown, and one interception leading the Raiders (2-1) to a 17-10 victory in Nashville, their second road win of the season.
For the season, Carr has thrown for 867 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception.
Oakland’s ground game racked up 123 yards, with starting running back Latavius Murray scoring his third rushing touchdown on the season.
Oakland’s 32nd ranked defense, who gave up 500 yards of total offense in back-to-back games to start the season, held Tennessee to 393 yards.
Rookie safety Karl Joseph, making his first career start, led the Raiders with 10 tackles (4 assisted), and cornerback Sean Smith recorded his first interception as a Raider.
The Ravens are coming off a tight, 19-17, road victory in Jacksonville Sunday, thanks to a Justin Tucker 54-yard field goal with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Baltimore is off to it’s third 3-0 start in franchise history, their first since 2009.
Baltimore starting quarterback Joe Flacco is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL entering his ninth season, already with six 3,000-yard passing seasons, a 10-5 playoff record, and a Super Bowl ring.
Even though Flacco has passed for 774 yards, he’s been uneven with the football, throwing three touchdowns and four interceptions, two against a young Jaguars’ defense last week.
However, Flacco was one pass away for tying an NFL record for consecutive completions in a game (22), but did break his own franchise record of 14 straight completions in a game, which he set in 2009.
Oakland should have their hands full with wide receiver Mike Wallace, who signed with Baltimore during the offseason.
Wallace, who is one of the more dangerous deep-ball receivers in the NFL, has caught all of Baltimore’s receiving touchdowns.
On the season, Wallace has 10 catches for 166 yards, while fellow wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is second on the team (behind tight end Dennis Pitta’s 18 catches), with 16.
Smith Sr. registered 10 catches for 150 yards last year against Oakland and can go off in a heartbeat, if Oakland doesn’t loses track of him.
Baltimore’s defense were relentless in Week 3 against Jacksonville, holding the Jaguars to just 216 total yards. The Ravens held Jacksonville to just 2.3 yards per rush on 21 carries for 48 yards.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, now in his 14th year with Baltimore, is tied for the team lead in sacks with defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with three.
Jernigan should see plenty of former Ravens’ offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, who returns to Baltimore for the first time after signing a five-year, $58.5 million deal with Oakland in the offseason. Osemele spent his first four seasons with the Ravens from 2012-15.
Oakland, having to make the near five-hour cross-country flight, looks to improve on a 1-16 record in their last 17 games in the Eastern time zone with a victory.
Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. ET.