A week after hosting the team the Raiders lost to in the Super Bowl, they face the team which Siragusa flopped their way to a Super Bowl trip two years prior. Just the Patriots remain for the millennial axis of evil.
Sorry for those painful memories but for many of you they are still fresh in your minds. The Raiders actually still have two players on this team who were on that 2000 team. Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler were rookies that season. They certainly remember watching Tony Siragusa intentionally injure Rich Gannon to knock him from the game and the Raiders from the playoffs. So, yeah, there is still some bad blood.
These Ravens are not the Ravens of old. However, the most important Raven of all is, well, old-Ray Lewis. The Raiders won't have to worry about the future first ballot Hall of Fame linebacker this week. He is on injured reserve. Also not on that defense is number one corner, Ladarius Webb. They did, however, get All Pro Terrell Suggs back from injury a few weeks ago.
The Ravens can be had on defense, unlike the past decade. Carson Palmer will look to exploit their weak secondary but to do that, his offensive line will need to keep Suggs and company out of the backfield. Something they haven't been doing much this season. Khalif Barnes is inactive so it will either be Willie Smith at right tackle again or perhaps Tony Bergstrom will get a shot.
Taiwan Jones is starting at running back for the injured Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. He will share duties with recently activated practice squad player, Jeremy Stewart, and fullback Marcel Reece.
The Ravens have All Pro running back Ray Rice in the backfield. The Raiders were gashed last week by rookie running back Doug Martin for 251 yards. Martin has long drawn comparisons to Rice. That could spell bad news for the Raiders who are without Richard Seymour due to a knee and hamstring injury.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been up and down all season but not at home. He plays is best football in front of his home fans. He and Torrey Smith will look to hook up many times and it will be up to recently activated Ron Bartell as well as Michael Huff to try and slow down that connection.
This should be a pretty good game. Or at least the Raiders are hoping it is. As far as East Coast trips go, another hard-fought game like the one in Atlanta would be preferable to the debacle in Miami.
So, come on Raiders, give us somethin' to talk about.
Raiders inactives: QB Terrelle Pryor, DT Richard Seymour, RB Darren McFadden, RB Mike Goodson, OL Khalif Barnes & Lucas Nix, DE Jack Crawford
Ravens Inactives: CB Asa Jackson, S Christian Thompson, RB Bobby Rainey, OL Ramon Harewood, WR Deonte Thompson, TE Billy Bajema, DE P McPhee