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Five stats that stand out ahead of Sunday's Raiders-Ravens game

In baseball, the sample size and variance police would be throwing tantrums about combining 2014 stats with one week of 2015 to reach the logical and reasonable conclusions contained herein. But this is the NFL, where there's not a lot to go on and what we see every Sunday is more important by virtue of there being just 16 games.

Which is all a long prelude to this week's compilation of five stats that stand out ahead of Sunday's game between the winless Ravens and the winless Oakland Raiders, including notes on both teams' downfield passing, the Raiders' red-zone prowess, and more.

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  • 4.7: Starter Derek Carr and his replacement, Matt McGloin, combined to average 4.7 yards per attempt in Week 1, fourth-worst in the NFL. Now, among the only qualifiers worse last week were Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco, a result of the two teams’ slugfest in Denver, but this is a legitimate issue in Oakland stemming from more than one game. Carr’s 5.5 yards per attempt in 2014 was worst in the NFL by a lot, and the Ravens can compound what appear to be big gains in the secondary by jumping in front of the underneath routes they’re certain to see and tackling the way they did in Week 1, not most of 2014. They’re unlikely to be challenged downfield, no matter who is at quarterback for Oakland Sunday.
  • 72.4: In addition to scoring touchdowns both times they got into the red zone against Cincinnati in Week 1, the Raiders boasted the NFL’s highest touchdown percentage in the red zone last season, at 72.4 percent. The Ravens defense was second-best at preventing touchdowns in the red zone (45 percent) a season ago, and didn’t allow a touchdown when the Broncos went inside their 20-yard line on Sunday. Needless to say, this will be an aspect of the game that will decide whether the Ravens return to Baltimore Sunday evening with a win.
  • 310: That’s how many more starts the trio of injured starting defensive backs on the Raiders have over their top reserves, a frightening sign for any defense and a welcoming one for the Ravens. Many of those are safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) and his 236 career starts, because he is a legend, but cornerback D.J. Hayden (ankle) was a first-round draft pick and safety Nate Allen (knee) started from the jump six years ago in Philadelphia. Enter Larry Asante and recently-signed Taylor Mays at safety, and likely Neiko Thorpe at cornerback if Hayden can’t go. That should be a nice cure for what ailed the Ravens’ passing offense in Denver, if Flacco has time to set his feet and throw.
  • 10: In Tuesday’s new weekly spotlight, I tacked on a note at the end about how Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore (or someone in that position group) had a tasty matchup against the Raiders after Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert caught nine passes for 104 yards and two scores on Sunday. Well, it’s a bit of a trend in Oakland, even with a new defense under coach Jack Del Rio. The Raiders allowed 10 touchdowns to tight ends in 2014, sixth-most in the NFL. They didn’t rack up the yards like Eifert did last year — opposing tight ends averaged just over four catches and 50 yards per game against Oakland — but Eifert showed there’s damage to be done against a unit that might not have improved on that shaky record from a year ago.
  • 5: The last time he played the Raiders was in 2012, but outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil had five multi-sack games in eight tries against the Raiders when he was a member of the Denver Broncos. His nine sacks against Oakland are the second most he has against any team, and though those all came against different offensive linemen — starting tackles Donald Penn and Austin Howard both arrived in 2014 — the veteran pass rusher’s first game in Terrell Suggs’ rush linebacker role will be in a comfortable setting where he’s gotten to the quarterback before.
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