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Five Good Questions with Baltimore Beatdown: Are these 3-0 Ravens for real?

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I speak with Kyle Barber from SB Nation Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown to get the scoop on the Raiders opponent Sunday.

1. Looks like quite a turnaround for the Ravens off to a 3-0 start after a 5-11 season. What is the major difference and how confident are you that this success can continue?

HEALTH. People forget the Ravens lost 17 players to IR last year and still managed a 5-11 record. This year, the Ravens have most of these players back, and they filled in absences with free agent or draft acquisitions. While I don't expect the Ravens to continue perfection, I do see them winning anywhere from nine to eleven games this season.

2. It looks like left tackle Ronnie Stanley won't be playing this week. Who replaces him and how big of a loss is that?

Very big loss for the Ravens. Ronnie Stanley has proved to be a great offensive tackle with NFL caliber play. His successor will either be Alex Lewis, fourth round draft pick this season, or James Hurst. Lewis is young and has not taken many snaps at left tackle this season with Stanley proving his dominance. James Hurst is somebody Ravens fans do not want to see on the field. He is one of the worst graded PFF players. Not just left tackle grading, but players as a whole.

3. The Ravens are back to having a top five defense again this season. What makes that defense tick and what area (if any) might that defense be vulnerable?

It's been very enjoyable to watch the Ravens defense become a force once more. The Ravens are physically a menacing defense. With a front seven built to abuse running backs, the only solution is to air out the ball. Bad news for Raiders fans, Eric Weddle has helped to solidify the secondary. His leadership has proved to be the missing part of years past. The weakness, if any, is the Ravens cornerback depth. They haven't consistently provided adequate coverage from CB2 down.

4. Is the Ravens' receiving corps as scary as they look? And is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback?

The receiving corps is real. Never have Ravens fans experienced a surplus of skill position talent. Never have they needed to fight over who truly needs to make the roster at WR, TE and RB. But this season is different. Everybody has the capability to become a threat.

Joe Flacco is undoubtedly an elite quarterback.

5. Who is one player on each side of the ball that you think could have a major -- and possibly unexpected -- impact on this game?

Offense - Kamar Aiken. Last season, he was close to posting 1,000 yards with Ryan Mallett, Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen as his quarterback. But with the Mike Wallace being the new receiving threat Kamar only has three catches for 19 yards. He could be the sudden threat others have forgotten.

Defense - Timmy Jernigan. A violent defensive end that is built to perform under pressure. He not only is big enough to clog lanes, but is quick to the quarterback. Three weeks in he has posted a sack in each game. Last week he was my player of the game. He swatted a third down pass. Next possession sacked the quarterback. Third drive he swatted another pass resulting in an interception. A player that can deliver for sixty minutes and accomplish desperate goals. Watch for 99.

To see my answers to his questions, click here.