Cornerback Carlos Rogers missed his third straight practice Friday with a knee injury. He played every snap in last week’s loss to the Browns. Meanwhile, receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was back after missing Thursday’s practice due to personal reasons It was raining pretty good at practice, which should prepare the team a little bit for Sunday’s game in Seattle. We’ll see if the Raiders are mudders.
Your mama never told you, but there is more than one way to watch a football game.
By far the most common method is an unfocused view that allows your eye to gravitate toward the ball. You’re watching a team play and judging the result of that team play.
There is another method usually reserved for a second viewing—like replays and breakdowns. You’re watching just a few key players and their impact on any given play.
Watch the 0-7 Oakland Raiders with the first method, and you’re going to be disappointed the vast majority of the time. Focus your attention on rookie outside linebacker Khalil Mack, and the viewing experience changes for the better.
In nine out of the last 11 years, there was little reason to watch to lowly Raiders other than to accumulate points on an imaginary fan loyalty card. Mack has given fans a reason to watch the Raiders, and to dream of better days in the hopefully not-so-distant future.
It’s been a long time since the Raiders had a defender considered one of the best at their position and even longer since they had an impact rookie on defense. To find an impact rookie in Oakland like Mack, you have to go back to 1998 when then cornerback, now safety, Charles Woodson intercepted five passes, forced two fumbles and won defensive rookie of the year.
Simply by looking at the stat sheet, it would appear that Mack isn’t playing up to the hype. He has no sacks, no forced fumbles and just one batted pass. Mack leads the team with 35 solo tackles, but everyone knows that tackle statistics are overrated because manipulation is so common.
Dive a little deeper in the statistics and Mack looks better. According to teamrankings.com, Mack has 10 tackles for a loss. That’s as many as Von Miller, Justin Houston and J.J. Watt, and second only to Lavonte David. That’s not that surprising considering Mack tied Jason Babin’s NCAA record for tackles for a loss in his final season at Buffalo.
Mack is also the top-graded 3-4 outside linebacker on Pro Football Focus (subscription required)—in large part due to his work against the run. Mack also has five quarterback hits and 17 hurries. When weighted by Pro Football Focus for type and snaps, Mack’s pass-rush productivity is actually superior to players like Clay Matthews, Tamba Hali and Terrell Suggs.
“He jumps off the film,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said, via Josh Dubow of The Associate Press. “He’s almost unblockable and he’s got a great motor. He’s fast, he’s tough, he’s instinctive. We think he’s an obvious factor.”
Teams have doubled Mack, held him, chipped him with tight ends and running backs—and it hasn’t mattered. He’s been one of the lone bright spots during a dark season in Oakland. His play may ultimately save a few jobs in Oakland by the end of the season.
Mack “gained the respect of everybody on our team,” Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer said, via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “That guy is one of the best players we’ve gone against this year, and that’s a unanimous decision in that locker room.”
What that respect amounts to is a player who is fun to watch. If it were possible to watch Mack play and just ignore the play of the rest of the defense, then Oakland’s defense would be among the more watchable in the game. That’s impossible to do live, but after the fact, we can focus in on just Mack’s play.
Check out Mack here in the first quarter against the Browns last week. Note that Mack has pushed the tight end three yards backwards and shed his block before the running back arrives. The result was a tackle for a loss for Mack.
Mack used his arms to stay disengaged from the blocker while driving him back, before shedding the block and making the tackle. Great play, but take note of the order.
He did the same thing in the third quarter. He pushed the tight end back, shed the blocker and made the tackle. No team in their right mind is going to be leave tight ends on an island with Mack after what he did Sunday to the Browns.
“When he goes fast, when he starts fast on the line of scrimmage, leads with his hands, as powerful as the young man is, he can really knock people around and he’s improved and improved and improved,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said Thursday via Raiders.com. “He’s not letting formations mess with him anymore.”
In this example, Mack switched it up based on the formation. Mack shed the block first, crashed down, used his hands to stay clean when another blocker got in the way, kept his eyes up and wrapped up the running back for a loss. It was the opposite order, but the same result.
Mack is making an impact and changing games, but he’s yet to make the game-changing play that the great players in the league make. A forced fumble, a sack fumble or an interception off a batted pass. Interim head coach Tony Sparano said he thinks he is getting close.
“I think Khalil has done a really good job of forcing the issue in a lot of situations,” Sparano said, via Raiders.com Wednesday. “[He] is really, really close to…changing a game at some point here real fast.”
The Raiders may not be fun to watch, but Mack is. Keep your eye on him because it’s only a matter of time before he does something special. That’s a lot less depressing to think about than 0-16.
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The Oakland Raiders are still winless heading into their eighth game of the season, and things are only going to get tougher from here.
Per ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson, the Raiders’ remaining opponents have a record of 40-25 (.625). This gives Oakland the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the NFL, a stretch that includes the Denver Broncos (twice), the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers. First up in this murderer’s row are the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
Derek Carr won the starting job in final preseason game when he had an incredible performance in Oakland against these very same Seahawks. That night, he went 11-of-13 passing for 143 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers in two quarters of play.
His snaps came against plenty of starters, but the Seattle defense he sees this week will be much tougher than the one he saw in August. Still, it’s going to take a similar performance for Oakland to have a chance.
Can the Raiders win this game? Yes. Should they? No. But if you’re Oakland, you still have to enter the game believing in your game plan and confident that if you execute, you can come out with a victory.
Oakland will certainly have its work cut out for it when it visits CenturyLink Field in Seattle this Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET live on CBS. Here’s a full breakdown of the game and what Oakland needs to do to not only stay in the game, but to give itself a chance to win.
The Oakland Raiders have had another down year, still searching for that first win of the year going into Week 9. However, after firing its head coach in the first month of the season, the head coaching situation has become a topic of conversation for the future in Oakland.
Is owner Mark Davis holding out his coaching search for Jon Gruden? Does Oakland personnel believe Gruden is the right fit for the Raiders?
Watch as Stephen Nelson breaks down the Oakland Raiders coaching situation with Bleacher Report NFL Insider Jason Cole in the video above.
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The Raiders are 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 games as double-digit underdogs while the Seahawks are 12-4-1 ATS in their past 17 as double-digit home favorites since 2003.
Point Spread: Seahawks opened as 15.5-point favorites. The total was 42.5 early in the week.
Odds Shark Computer Pick: Seahawks 29.9, Raiders 9.4
Why the Raiders Can Cover the Spread
First of all, Oakland is 8-3 ATS vs. Seattle in the last 11 meetings between these teams. Granted, they have not played since 2010, when the Raiders routed the Seahawks 33-3 as two-point home favorites, and seven of those covers also resulted in wins.
But this is a huge spread, and Oakland has gone 9-3 ATS in its previous 12 as a double-digit dog.
The Raiders do not have many games that they get up for outside of divisional matchups, but this is certainly one of them.
They were able to cover their last AFC West game against the San Diego Chargers in a 31-28 loss as 7.5-point dogs, and you can bet they will want to take their best shot at the defending Super Bowl champions here.
Why the Seahawks Can Cover the Spread
Seattle’s defense may be hurting a bit right now, but it’s still among the best in the league and proved that again last week in a 13-9 road win against the Carolina Panthers.
Oakland will struggle to score at CenturyLink Field and has averaged just 12 points per game on the road this year with a high of 14 in the season opener.
Despite totalling only 13 points at Carolina against another good defense, the Seahawks are certainly capable of scoring, averaging nearly 26 per game in the previous four.
The Raiders have allowed an average of 29 points to their last four opponents, so facing this defense is just what Seattle needs to get its offense back on track sans Percy Harvin.
The Seahawks have failed to cover the spread in three straight games, which has not happened to them in the regular season since 2010. Last year, they followed up consecutive non-covers on two occasions by winning big in the next game by an average of almost 18 points.
Seattle is going through some issues that every defending Super Bowl champ must face, including how to keep players happy and motivated during another potential title run.
If any opponent can cure those ills, it’s the Raiders. Oakland is just 3-8 ATS in its past 11 games and will be playing a team that is chasing the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West lead.
The Seahawks will win this one in a rout.
- Oakland is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games when playing Seattle.
- Seattle is 18-6 ATS in its last 24 games at home.
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Quarterback Derek Carr is not the problem with the Oakland Raiders in 2014. In fact, he’s one of the few players the 0-7 Raiders can build around, but that actually creates a different issue for the franchise.
The Raiders have to evaluate Carr without making his supporting cast the scapegoat for all of his problems. This is true now, and should continue to be true through next season no matter what owner Mark Davis decides to do with the front office and coaching staff.
The one thing the Raiders can’t afford to do is give Carr a pass for the struggles of the offense. If Carr were a good NFL quarterback right now, the Raiders wouldn’t be 31st in points and yards per game even with a terrible supporting cast.
Carr is growing and has undeniable talent, but he’s still very much a work in progress. The Raiders can look to a similar situation in St. Louis over the past five years to see how sticking with potential over production can be dangerous even if there are clear roster-talent issues in play.
The Rams used the No. 1 overall pick on Sam Bradford in 2011, and after a 2-14 season in his second year, they brought in a new general manager and head coach. The circumstances could be similar in Oakland this year.
The Rams had the rights to the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and traded it for a bounty of draft picks so the Washington Redskins could land Robert Griffin III. It was a nice idea, but the Rams would probably rather have Griffin III right now than what they got in return.
According to Pro Football Talk, the Rams netted offensive lineman Greg Robinson, linebacker Alex Ogletree, wide receiver Stedman Bailey, running back Zac Stacy, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, running back Isaiah Pead and offensive guard Rokevious Watkins with the picks they received from Washington.
Pead and Watkins aren’t on the roster, Stacy has fallen out of favor and Bailey has four receptions this season in five games. Ogletree is the worst 4-3 outside linebacker in football by a wide margin, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Robinson was the No. 2 overall pick this year, but he didn’t start the first seven games. Neither Brockers nor Jenkins has been great enough to justify the trade.
The Raiders will undoubtedly have a top draft pick and have a chance to select NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller’s No. 1 overall player in quarterback Marcus Mariota of Oregon. The Raiders could also consider Florida State’s Jameis Winston or UCLA’s Brett Hundley—Miller’s fifth- and sixth-ranked players, respectively.
It’s unlikely the Raiders would go this route, but they need to keep the option on the table. Otherwise, Carr is getting a free pass. If there is one thing the Raiders need, it’s an infusion of young talent, but trading away the right to draft a top quarterback talent merits careful examination—especially if one of them is a special player.
That means evaluating Carr’s performance and trying to isolate what has to do with him and what has to do with the talent around him.
There’s a misconception that Carr is getting no help. At times, this is true, but he’s also received some support from his teammates.
One area where this is particularly true is in pass protection. The Raiders are currently the fourth-ranked team in pass-blocking, according to Pro Football Focus.
Carr’s receivers have also bailed him out on numerous occasions. On Sunday, Andre Holmes, Kenbrell Thompkins and Mychal Rivera all helped Carr more than they hurt him. James Jones has been Carr’s favorite target and has made several nice adjustments to less-than-perfect Carr passes this season.
Oakland’s receivers, tight ends and running backs also haven’t dropped an unusually high percentage of passes on the season. The Raiders are 17th in the league, per Pro Football Focus data, with a drop percentage just a hair north of six percent. League average is 5.5 percent.
There’s also little evidence to suggest that drops negatively affect an offense in a profound way. For every drop, there is usually a great catch. Drop rate doesn’t have a strong correlation to any of the traditional passing metrics such as yards, touchdowns, passer rating or yards per attempt this year.
The standard deviation on drop rate among qualified quarterbacks is just 1.42 percent, which is about three drops on the season per quarterback. Over 74 percent (20) of the 27 quarterbacks fell within one standard deviation of the average, and Philip Rivers is just three attempts without a drop from falling into the range.
Untimely drops can certainly hurt, but for the most part, the Raiders are within the acceptable range. Carr is actually the sixth-closest of the qualified quarterbacks to the average drop rate.
Not Getting Help
A rookie quarterback has three best friends—a productive running game, a playmaker in the passing game and a savvy offensive coordinator. The Raiders have none of these things.
The Raiders are on pace for just 1,113 rushing yards. Only three teams in the history of the league have rushed for fewer in a 16-game season—the 2000 Cleveland Browns (1,085 yards), the 2000 San Diego Chargers (1,062 yards) and the 1992 Indianapolis Colts (1,102 yards). The Browns and Chargers won a combined four games in 2000.
There are only nine teams with 487 rushing yards or fewer through seven games. Eight of the nine teams were 2-5 or worse. The Raiders do have a higher per-carry average than all of them, but that could easily decline against a tough second-half schedule.
Starting running back Darren McFadden is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and 48.3 yards per game. Both are among the worst totals for a starting running back in the entire league. Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry on 24 attempts.
McFadden has two issues, but the biggest one is a lack of a vision. McFadden leaves yards on the field far too often, and it’s hurting the team. Take this 2nd-and-3 example from the third quarter on Sunday.
Instead of following his blocking and creating a nice gain, McFadden bounced it outside for a loss of three yards. The Raiders did manage to convert on third down after this play, but plays like this are why they are converting just 37 percent of their third downs.
Oakland’s offensive line has done a good job in pass protection, but their ability to push the pile in the run game has been one of the biggest disappointments. Pro Football Focus has the Raiders 29th in the league.
Right guard Austin Howard has been a liability in the run game, and rookie left guard Gabe Jackson has been up and down. Guards are typically the key to the power scheme, so it makes sense why the Raiders are struggling to establish the ground game.
Sometimes an offense with a rookie quarterback can compensate for a bad running game by having an offensive playmaker. An elite receiver who can get separation and who gains yards after the catch is the ideal.
The Raiders don’t have such a receiver. Jones has 425 receiving yards to lead the team, and his 60.7 yards per game is 30th in the league, but he has also fumbled three times on the season. Andre Holmes makes the biggest plays, but he needs to develop more consistency.
Neither are catching many passes with opportunities after the catch, either. Even when the Raiders try to get the ball to Jones or Holmes on screen passes and pick plays, they can’t make defenders miss, the blocking is poor, or both.
It happened early in the third quarter when Carr hit Jones on the screen with plenty of room to operate. Jones simply didn’t have the burst to make anything of it, and the complete failure of blocking on the play certainly didn’t help. Holmes did make a nice move to get in the end zone late in the game, but it was way too little and way too late.
Then there’s the offensive coordinator, who decided it would be a good idea to throw on the Browns instead of run the ball. McFadden, despite his flaws, was averaging 4.9 yards per carry against the Browns and had just 12 carries. Meanwhile, Carr threw 54 passes when the game wasn‘t out of hand until late in the fourth quarter.
On a 3rd-and-1 in the first quarter, offensive coordinator Greg Olson called a pass play and no one got open short. At the start of the second quarter, Olson had another chance so he called a fullback dive that also fell short.
Then there’s the play where McFadden is supposed to throw a pass to Carr out of the Wildcat formation on the first drive. McFadden had to elude pressure and nearly threw an interception. With no positive yardage gained, the offense wasn’t able to get back on schedule.
Olson isn’t doing his young quarterback any favors with his play-calling. The play designs aren‘t the problem and the players have to do a better job executing, but he needs to put them in the best position to succeed.
Carr is responsible for the offensive struggles of his team just as any quarterback would be. On many occasions, Carr has locked onto his targets and missed a wide-open man.
Carr tends to trust Jones to such an extent that he’s willing to throw the ball to him even when a defensive back blankets him. We saw this against the Browns Sunday on a 3rd-and-5 with two minutes to play in the first half.
Carr gets the matchup he likes and unloads a deep pass for Jones that he can’t get instead of hitting Thompkins on the underneath crosser for the first down. The Raiders had to settle for a field goal.
It happened again later in the game on 1st-and-10, down 16-6 with 13:09 left to play. Carr dropped back and unfurled a midrange pass to Holmes that he caught in acrobatic fashion on the sideline, but he also pushed off the defensive back and drew the flag.
Had Carr been less hasty, he would have seen fullback Marcel Reece dragging across the middle of the field wide open. A couple of plays later, the Raiders punted because of Carr’s inability to take the yards the defense was giving him.
Other notable issues for Carr include his tendency to throw off his back foot under pressure and across his body, poor placement on throws such as a slant to Jones on 3rd-and-5 in the fourth quarter (despite a sloppy route) and two penalties for delay of game.
Carr has made progress in many areas, but he still has plenty to work on. He now steps up in the pocket with more frequency, but he needs to be more consistent. Carr makes the right reads more often than he did a month ago, but he still needs to give himself an extra tick of time to find the open man.
Honest evaluation of Carr is going to be vital over the final nine games if the Raiders want to avoid making mistakes when they get around to rebuilding the team.
Unless otherwise specified, all statistics via Pro-Football-Reference.com.
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After a 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday, the Oakland Raiders have lost 13 straight games dating back to last season. That’s the worst streak in franchise history and one of the 15 worst in the history of the NFL.
There were positives from Sunday’s game just as there have been positives this season, but a few positives don’t mean much when the team is 0-7 and marching toward 0-16. The only team with a sub-.500 record the Raiders play over the final nine games is the St. Louis Rams, but they play them on the road.
If the Raiders don’t win a game this season, they will own the second-worst losing streak in NFL history. That’s the kind of futility that demands drastic changes. The Raiders need a franchise-altering change to help expel 12 years with at least eight losses, which they will likely achieve next week—the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
The Raiders are already committed to major changes in 2015, but no change should be too big to be off the table. Owner Mark Davis should consider having a neutral third party evaluate the football operations, including his role, the performance of the front office and the performance of the coaching staff. Davis’ most trusted advisers may not be good enough.
The knee-jerk reaction is to just fire everyone and start fresh, but that’s not always the best course of action. It’s actually what got the Raiders into the mess they are currently in. The Raiders fired then-head coach Hue Jackson, blew up the roster and changed all the schemes when McKenzie was hired just over two years ago.
Some of the moves have been wise, but some may have actually hurt the Raiders. Poorly performing teams aren’t void of positive performing members. Look no further than the performance of rookie first-round pick Khalil Mack to see that the performance of an individual doesn’t always result in the performance of the team.
Mack was a disruptive force against the Browns and single-handedly made at least one stop on third down. Although Mack doesn’t have a sack this season, he’s more than proving he was worthy of the fifth overall pick and is a serious candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Brian Hoyer (and the team, per Hoyer) felt Mack’s one of the toughest opponents on defense via FoxSportsOhio.com’s Zac Jackson:
After Sunday’s game in Cleveland, some changes are inevitable. Interim head coach Tony Sparano gave a green light to running back Darren McFadden throwing a pass to quarterback Derek Carr and a fake field goal on the team’s opening drive that resulted in an interception by way of backup quarterback Matt Schaub.
Sparano is now 0-3 as interim head coach, and the boost the team was supposed to receive from firing head coach Dennis Allen after four games only lasted one game. That boost was coming off the bye week when the team had extra time to prepare, so how much Sparano has really been able to affect change is debatable.
Sparano and the rest of the coaching staff will likely be gone, save maybe a few position coaches. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson called 54 pass plays to just 20 run plays against the worst-ranked run defense in the entire league. The Raiders averaged 4.7 yards per carry on the ground Sunday, so the situation certainly called for more running plays.
On 3rd-and-1 on Oakland’s second drive, Olson called a pass play that fell incomplete. In the same situation two drives later, Olson called for a fullback dive, and Jamize Olawale didn’t gain a single yard. End around to wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, screen passes to James Jones and an underutilization of Brice Butler are prime examples of why Olson won’t be back next season.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver had a better day than normal on Sunday. His defense stopped an offense that had been one of the best on the ground, and the Browns were 2-of-12 on third down. The performance was not enough to ignore the team’s lack of performance on that side of the ball this season.
Keeping quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo makes sense based on his work with rookie Derek Carr and to ease the transition for him next season. Beyond that, the Raiders may not keep many coaches next season.
The roster is also likely to see a lot of new faces next season. According to Over The Cap, the team currently has just 41 players under contract next season, and that includes nine veterans McKenzie signed in the offseason that can be released without a cap hit.
Only a handful of those players have performed well enough to stick next season. Wide receiver James Jones had six receptions for 62 yards Sunday and is clearly Carr’s favorite target. Carr even missed a wide- open Thompkins on a 3rd-and-5 because he trusted his first read Jones to make a tough back-shoulder catch.
Left Donald Penn and to a lesser extent defensive end Justin Tuck are the only other veteran free agents the Raiders signed in 2014 that they should consider keeping in 2015. After a few cuts, the Raiders should have close to $60 million in cap space in 2015 for which to improve a lackluster talent roster.
The most drastic changes the Raiders can make are in the front office. While it’s hard to imagine McKenzie surviving 0-16, it’s worth noting that Ron Wolf’s tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers produced the worst losing streak in NFL history of 26 games from 1976-1977. Wolf is one of two finalists for the Hall of Fame in the contributor this year.
Wolf worked for Raiders owner Al Davis before and after his stint with the Buccaneers and helped him build multiple Super Bowl teams.
Wolf left in 1991 to become the general manager of the Green Bay Packers where he traded for quarterback Brett Favre, won a Super Bowl, built a perennial contender and developed front-office talent, including current general managers Ted Thompson in Green Bay, John Schneider in Seattle, John Dorsey in Kansas City and McKenzie.
As far as drastic changes to the front office, the Raiders may have just two options: keep McKenzie and most of his front office, which would be a drastic change in protocol in Oakland or clean house and hire a president to insulate owner Mark Davis and assist him in making his next hire.
Just firing McKenzie may make the Oakland’s general manager job radioactive to the best candidates. The job will be enticing due to some of the young talent and the cap space, but a trigger-happy and meddling owner isn’t going to attract top front-office talent.
Oakland already has enough trouble attracting top talent given the quality of its facilities. If a stadium deal doesn’t materialize in the coming months, the Raiders aren’t going to be an attractive destination for top free agents.
The Raiders aren’t going anywhere this year, but the evaluation for next year should already be underway. With every passing embarrassment, it’s clear that drastic changes need to be made, even if the drastic moves are not what you might expect.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics via Pro-Football-Reference.com.
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The Oakland Raiders had to have this game against the very beatable Cleveland Browns, and it was there for the taking. But as has been the case all season, they weren’t able to make the plays that ultimately made the difference, and the team now finds itself at 0-7.
This was a frustrating game for many reasons, but the biggest is that it wasn’t so much that the Browns won. It was more that the Raiders lost.
It was another difficult-to-watch performance for the offense as it was unable to generate any points despite finding some success moving the ball. At this point, it’s becoming almost amusing to see all the ways in which this team can’t score. Almost.
The defense played well enough to win, especially against the run. Unfortunately, the offense was never able to take advantage of the opportunity. With the the offense unable to sustain long drives, it was just a matter of time before the defense broke, and eventually it did.
The Raiders could’ve won this game. They should’ve won this game. But they didn’t, and they were once again their own worst enemy.
Here are the grades for each position group following Sunday’s game.
CLEVELAND — The Raiders couldn’t score a touchdown for the first 59 minutes Sunday and were actually in the game for three quarters. But the ending was really never in doubt, was it now, and Oakland fell to 0-7 after Cleveland scored the game’s first touchdown early in the fourth quarter and won 23-13. Former 49ers safety Donte Whitner hit Darren McFadden and forced a fumble with 23 seconds left in the third quarter, after the Raiders, down 9-6, had driven 71 yards to the Cleveland 20. The ball flew into Joe Haden’s hands, who returned it 34 yards to the 47 to set up the Browns game-icing touchdown. Andrew
The Oakland Raiders are the NFL‘s last winless team, but they have a great opportunity to change that Sunday when they visit the Cleveland Browns. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET from FirstEnergy Stadium. The live broadcast can be seen on CBS.
It makes sense that a team that’s started 0-6 would make some major changes to the lineup. Oakland isn’t doing this by choice—injuries have forced the coaches’ hands—but there will be new faces getting a lot of snaps on defense for the Raiders.
Usama Young and LaMarr Woodley were lost for the season last week due to injury, and they’ll be replaced by Brandian Ross and Benson Mayowa, respectively.
While both had struggled, Young had been more effective recently. Woodley, on the other hand, had been arguably the worst player on defense. Ross, and especially Mayowa, will have a great opportunity to improve on the play of the teammates they’re replacing.
The offense has remained relatively healthy, but that hasn’t translated to success on the field. Derek Carr needs to have a performance similar to the one he had in Week 6 for Oakland to have a chance. This means he needs to lead the offense to more than 14 points, something he’s done only once this year.
But while Carr has to play well, the game could come down to the performance of Darren McFadden. Sunday’s matchup will feature the league’s worst rushing attack versus the league’s worst rushing defense, and something has to give. However, McFadden always has the potential for a breakout performance, and he has been running well in recent games.
If he taps into his potential, he’ll be the deciding factor.
Keep it here for live updates throughout the game, and let us know what you think of the game in the comments below.
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