After suffering back-to-back road losses, the Oakland Raiders return home this weekend to host John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.
Just like the Silver and Black, Harbaugh's group has dropped their past two games after opening the season 2-0, so Sunday's clash at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is sure to be a highly-contested one, even with the Raiders starting quarterback likely out of commission.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT, so here are six things to keep an eye on as the Raiders try to secure their third win of 2017.
1. Enter EJ Manuel
After suffering a transverse process fracture in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos, we've been given every indication that Derek Carr will *not *be under center this weekend, instead likely ceding the duties to the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, EJ Manuel.
Manuel has been in the league since 2013, and with 17 starts under his belt, he's more than equipped to lead Todd Downing's offense while Carr recovers.
All eyes have understandably been on Manuel this week, but according to No. 3, he's approaching his preparation for the Ravens just as he does every week when he knows Carr will be getting the nod.
The Ravens have traditionally boasted a tough defense, so Manuel will no doubt have his hands full this weekend at the OACC; let's see how he responds to the stage.
2. Can the run game get rolling again?
In the Raiders first two games, both wins, the team averaged 144.5 rushing yards.
In the past two games though, both losses, Marshawn Lynch and Co., averaged just 28 yards on the ground. How's that for a discrepancy?
I'm not breaking any news when I say that the Raiders offense is at its best when it presents a balanced attack, and when all the pieces are rocking and rolling, you'd be hard pressed to find a more dynamic offense in the NFL.
That just hasn't been the case the past two weeks, and while it's unfair to pin the shortcomings of the offense just on the running game, the group would be well served to get back to their usually-productive ways this Sunday, particularly with Carr likely on the shelf.
3. How does the secondary look come Sunday afternoon?
You have to give credit where credit is due; without the services of David Amerson and Gareon Conley last weekend in Denver, the Silver and Black's secondary actually put together a pretty decent day at the office, limiting Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian to just 179 passing yards.
Both Amerson and Conley practiced this week, but as of now, their game statuses for the Raiders Week 6 tilt against the Ravens remains in question.
If they're unable to go Sunday afternoon, I expect that we'll once again see a heavy dose of TJ Carrie and Sean Smith, and while that duo did indeed play well last weekend, I'm sure Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., would like to have the full complement of all his defensive backs.
4. Will Khalil Mack make it four in a row?
The Raiders All-Pro defensive end has unsurprisingly once again gotten off to a hot start in 2017, totaling four sacks and one pass defensed, all while being incredibly stout against the run.
No. 52 has now taken the quarterback down in back-to-back-to-back games, so I'm excited to see if he can make it four games in a row this Sunday.
The Ravens have surrendered just nine sacks this season, so Mack will have a big challenge ahead of him, but when he gets rolling, it spells good things for the defense as a whole.
5. The Return Of The King?
"King Crab" that is.
You won't find many NFL wide receivers who are tougher than Derek Carr, so the fact that he wasn't able to go least weekend against the Broncos says something about where the veteran wide receiver was at physically.
That being said, No. 15 returned to practice this week, inspiring an air of confidence that he'll be able to get back to work this weekend against the Ravens.
Crabtree has some of the surest hands in the NFL, so his return would be a welcome one, particularly considering that EJ Manuel will be the man presumably handling the quarterbacking duties.
6. Let Me Hear You, Raider Nation
It seems like it's been a while since the Silver and Black played at home in front of Raider Nation, doesn't it?
After back-to-back road games, the Raiders now enter a critical, three-game stretch at home, and will look to climb above the .500 mark this Sunday against the Ravens.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio continually stresses the importance of taking care of business at home, and Raider Nation has the ability to make life difficult for Joe Flacco and Co.
With that being said, let's hear you loud and proud Sunday afternoon, Raider Nation; you've been waiting a few weeks for this moment.