The Oakland Raiders offense has been a mess over the past two weeks, scoring just 10 points in each of two losses, and to make matters worse, star quarterback Derek Carr is unlikely to play in Week 5 with a back injury, per the Las Vegas Review Journal. Not all hope is lost for the Raiders, however, as the team has invested heavily in its rushing attack over the past few years. With Carr ailing, a lot of work will fall on the shoulders of Marshawn Lynch, the Oakland-born running back who came out of retirement to play for his hometown team.

Lynch has to go beast mode

Without Carr behind center, the Raiders will turn to 27-year-old draft bust EJ Manuel, who was selected 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2013. Despite registering an ugly 57.5 passer rating, Manuel showed fairly well after Carr left Week 4's game against the Denver Broncos, moving the offense more efficiently than Carr had.

That being said, we're still looking at a quarterback with a 76.9 career passer rating who has never been able to keep his job for an entire season (his career high in games played is 10). Manuel is not going to carry this team to victory—the best the Raiders can hope for is that Manuel effectively plays the role of a low-risk game manager. Game managers don't typically win football games without the help of a strong rushing attack, so as the leader of the backfield, Lynch has to make an impact against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 5.

Marshawn Lynch is not the same player he was back when he was carrying the ball over 300 times per season and ripping off five yards per carry. He's now 31 years old and is handling just 12.1 touches per game for the Raiders. That being said, Lynch has shown flashes of the dominance that made him a legend as a Seattle Seahawk—in Week 1, he made Pro Bowl lineman Jurrell Casey look like 305 pounds of pudding.

Lynch is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry this season—the lowest mark of his career. But his running hasn't been entirely to blame. Pro Football Focus ranks Lynch 24th among 47 qualifying running backs in run grade—above players like Todd Gurley and Carlos Hyde. Lynch still has gas left in the tank, and perhaps with more consistent carries, he'll be able to get into a rhythm and break off some chunk gains.

Linemen need to play up to their pay grade

The Raiders have the NFL's highest-priced offensive line at $43.2 million, per Over the Cap, but the unit hasn't looked anything like the league's best, especially over the past two weeks.

Gabe Jackson, the recipient of a five-year, $56 million contract extension this past offseason, has struggled mightily, ranking 58th among 72 qualifying guards in Pro Football Focus' grades—and his run blocking, in which he ranks 66th, has been especially poor. What makes this particularly concerning is that Jackson plays right guard, next to the theoretical weakest link of the Oakland line, right tackle Marshall Newhouse. When Jackson struggles, it makes it very difficult to run to the right side, allowing defenses to focus more on runs to the left, where star linemen Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele maul in the trenches.

While Penn and Osemele have been mostly reliable so far this season, they'll need to be elite with Carr sidelined and prove that they're worth every penny of their lofty salaries. Jackson needs to turn his game around drastically, while Newhouse, who has been surprisingly competent through four games, just needs to avoid making big mistakes. Rodney Hudson has been outstanding at center this season, so all he needs to do is keep on keepin' on.

Backup runners need to make an impact

At 31 years old, Lynch isn't going to hammer the rock 30 times against the Ravens' top-10 run defense. Therefore, change-of-pace backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are going to need to carry some of the load and give Manuel some help while Lynch is taking breathers on the sideline.

Richard, a pint-sized (5-foot-8, 207 pounds) speedster, has been outstanding in his complementary role this season with an average of 6.1 yards per carry—and though he has just 15 carries on the season, his YPC is no fluke, as he posted a 5.9 mark on 83 carries as a rookie last year. In fact, Richard has the highest run grade among Raiders running backs, per Pro Football Focus.

Washington, however, has been a disappointment in 2017. A fifth-round pick of the Raiders in last year's draft, Washington looked great as a rookie, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, but he has just 28 yards on 11 carries this season. Of course, it's easy to quickly spike that number with such a low carry total, but Washington is simply running poorly right now and needs to get his game turned around quickly so that the Raiders can get him involved in a rushing attack that needs to be productive in Week 5.

If the Raiders can get Lynch, Richard, and Washington to run well behind some strong offensive-line play, Manuel is competent enough that the offense should be able to post enough points to edge the Ravens on Sunday, assuming the defense, which ranks 13th in points allowed, continues to surprisingly limit opposing offenses.

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