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Could this be a big week for the Ravens' offense?

It has the potential to be. The Raiders are tied for fourth-worst in the NFL in scoring defense (28.6 points per game). They've struggled to stop the run - as was the case against Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week - and they've struggled to stop the pass as well. They're ranked 21st out of the NFL's 32 teams in both categories. The Ravens are scoring an average of 32 points per game at home. Oakland has yielded 31 points or more in four of its eight games.

How's the pass defense going to fare against the Raiders' passing game?

The pass defense will definitely be challenged. Armed with a number of speedy pass catchers, Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer is having one of the better statistical seasons of his career. Palmer has thrown for 297 yards or more in five of Oakland's eight games and he's among the league leaders in passing plays of 20 yards or more. Nine different Raiders have caught at least one pass of 20 yards or more and eight players have 14 catches or more. The Ravens are ranked 22nd in the NFL against the pass.

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How important of a win would this be?

Extremely. With as challenging of a schedule as the Ravens will face during its final seven games, pushing their record to 7-2 would put them in a good position both in terms of the AFC North as well as for overall playoff positioning. Baltimore holds a narrow lead for first place in the AFC North ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3). The Ravens play the Steelers two times in the three weeks following Oakland. The final seven games also include a road matchup with the San Diego Chargers (4-4) and home games against the AFC West leading Denver Broncos (5-3) and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (6-3).

Reach staff writer Matt Zenitz at 410-857-7896 or matt.zenitz@carrollcountytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @mzenitz.

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