Jet Set on Just Winning

The Raiders did their best to kill any argument they belong in the playoffs. A 43-6 loss puts them in ninth place and outside the postseason. The only good thing is Baltimore lost in their J.V. Wednesday game. Vegas still has head-to-head matchups with the Colts and Dolphins who are ahead of them in the standings so not all hope is lost.

Still, last week’s collapse was oddly familiar to the egg they laid last year around the same time. The seams came undone on that year but Gruden and others swear this is a different team.

Either way, if 2020 was a game it felt like last week. We knew the Falcons were a threat so we did not completely overlook them. We thought we were discipline enough to beat a deadly virus disguised as a common cough. Scoreboard told a different story as the Falcons hit the Raiders in the mouth like COVID hit our entire way of life. The Silver and Black went from being the physical team versus the Chiefs to getting bullied by a team with an interim coach and no playoff chances.

Sure, you can expect a let down after the Raiders came so close to beating the Chiefs the week before. It was a West Coast team traveling East. They had COVID issues too. All good reasons to que the it’s a trap memes!

This week, the Raiders have no excuses. People like to point out that teams have ended losing streaks versus the Jets. Sam Darnold hasn’t thrown a TD pass in four starts. Frank Gore keeps fighting time as he is their feature back off his best game.

It will be cold and Derek Carr won’t get the benefit of the dome. We know how he struggles in the cold but I can’t believe we are talking about him securing the ball this late in his career. He had three fumbles and three interceptions last week. It was his second game with multiple fumbles. His turnovers have been major in all of our losses this year.

Beating the Jets starts with controlling the ball. Vegas will also be down Josh Jacobs who is nursing an ankle sprain. Trent Brown also won’t be returning so who knows what to expect at right tackle. Right when we thought Brandon Parker was turning a corner he gives us a game like last week.

Not to mention, our defense still looked like Swiss cheese. They were still short handed due to the virus and they will be again with Carl Nassib out. Damon Arnette is also out due to a concussion. Maliek Collins ends a disappointing year with IR. Jonathan Abram will also be out.

On the other hand, Clelin Ferrell will return and Vic Beasley makes his debut. Some good news for the Raiders front seven.

Still, this could easily set the stage to the Jets finding themselves and putting together a win. Their coach is on the hot seat and Trevor Lawrence is in their sites which means New York’s effort could go either way.

The Raiders defense is messy and their offense will be down their identity which is Jacobs. Another poor defensive showing should send Paulie G. packing. Injuries can only save so much mediocrity.

On offense, the Raiders need to get back on track versus a Jets defense that ranks towards the bottom of the league. Their secondary is incredibly young so that should mean the Raiders look to get Henry Ruggs involved early and often. They will need his playmaking and speed in the cold. What New York does have is a near unblock-able Quinnen Williams. Blocking him is challenging enough but the Raiders added o-line injuries to Good and Brown could make him a real factor.

Ultimately, the Raiders got to forget about last season and last week. Carr has to put his cold and east coast struggles behind him by finding ways to convert on third down and not turning the ball over. He is the Raiders advantage given Darnold’s struggles. Carr can’t put his already struggling defense behind by turning the ball over.

Vegas’ x-factor is Davontae Booker. The former Bronco is averaging 5.5 yards per carry behind Jacobs rhis year. He earned himself some playing time and this is the game where he may shoulder the load in the cold. Look for the Raiders to give it to him early and often.

Defensively, the Jets do have size and speed at receiver. The Silver and Black are already undersized in the secondary which means the Jets could challenge them down field. Add the fact the Raiders are down bodies in the secondary and they will have their hands full.

New York also features one of the best young tackles in Mekhi Becton. Still, the Raiders figuring out the pass rush is once again imperative to winning. It will be harder given Nassib and Collins are out. Hurst could be out and oh yeah they have injuries in the secondary again.

It’s hard not to sound like the sky is falling after last week’s loss. The challenge is the Raiders have looked good versus playoff teams like the Chiefs, Browns and Saints but also looked bad versus middle of the road teams like the Falcons and Patriots. We are three quarters of the way through the season and should be playing our best ball. Instead, we’re worried about stacking three losses amid all these injuries.

As much as it feels like the Raiders are better and finding an identity, we still don’t know what to expect on a week to week basis. Should the Raiders beat up on a Jets team that is going the other way? Yes. Could they lose on the road to young team with all these injuries. Yes. Predicting what team shows up this week is as good as a guess.

If the Raiders want to make the playoffs they better find a way to make up for their sins with an imposing win versus the Jets. They need the confidence and their reserves need the experience amid all these injuries.

Even if mathematically there is a still a shot, a loss here could signal the end of a lot. The end of the coordinators in Vegas. The end of the Carr chapter. Or at the very least the end of our legitimate playoff hopes. But fuck it Just Win Baby!

Raiders Rants: No Let Down Vs K.C., How to Beat the Falcons and more.

Last week’s Sunday Night Football loss to the Chiefs was hardly a setback. The Raiders fought hard, down four starters and limited practice time due to COVID.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not sure Cory Littleton, Clelin Ferrell or any one else prevents the Chiefs from carving up the Raiders on that last drive. Still, they fought hard and competed versus a rival and the reigning champs.

There were some bright spots like the hobbled offensive line not giving up a sack. Las Vegas also spread the ball around through the air. Agholor and Waller continue leading the team as pass catchers.

It would have been nice to see them stick with the running game a bit more. Their defense also got another int versus Mahomes. Shoutout to Trayvon Mullen.

Still, they gave up over 100 rushing yards. Both Tye Hill and Travis Kelce caught over 100 yards. They did not get a sack on Mahomes either. Considering all that, it’s hard to believe the Raiders were a few moments from winning the games.

This week they play an Atlanta Falcons team that is better than their record indicates. They’ve lost a few close ones and blown a few big leads. Gruden called Atlanta the best 3-7 team he has seen. The Falcoons have a win and a loss to Carolina, a loss to the Saints and a win over the Broncos. The Raiders beat all three of those common opponents.

A loss last week was not a setback as the Raiders still hold playoff position in the seventh seed. That could easily change with a loss to the Falcons as their are seven teams at 6-4 or 7-3 with Vegas.

The Silver and Black can’t afford to give the Falcons any rhythm on offense. Atlanta will be down Todd Gurley and could also be without Julio Jones and TE Hayden Hurst. On defense, the Falcons could be down Dante Fowler Jr.

That offense down those pass catchers is good for the Raiders considering last week’s safety play. Erik Harris could also miss this game while Ferrell is expected to return. Cough, sign Earl Thomas.

Either way, the Raiders need to continue establishing their identity as an offense that can pound the ball and convert big plays on third downs and carry that into the red zone. All that starts up front with the offensive line which continues to play at a high level down bodies.

Defensively, they got to find ways to take the ball away and make plays on the QB. It’s good this group is playing physical and fast, especially versus a juggernaut like the Chiefs. However, it does little good if they keep getting carved up in the pass and run.

Swagger is great until you give up a game winning TD. Their hodgepodge secondary of veterans and young players needs to keep working through their lumps. As up and down as they are in the back end, the pass rush could do them more favors this week if Ferrell plays.

This week, the team signed two players on the right side of thirty who know the Falcons. Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley both teetered on draft bust before leaving Atlanta via free agency this offseason and the waiver wire. McKinley heads to injured reserve where they hope they can stash him. Beasley might not be active this week.

Nonetheless, I hope the Raiders got some defensive intel and play calls from the guys who were once supposed to be book ends for the team. The first round picks flashed potential in Atlanta but neither put together the consistency expect. Still, Las Vegas needs that top end athleticism in their front seven. Both guys are scheme versatile and should push for playing time once they are healthy. Beasley was a big part of the Falcons Super Bowl run a few years ago too.

The moves are good for the short term this week as the front seven is not playing well. It is also good for the long term if they redeem their careers. It’s the Raiders efforts to take a chance to get better that excites me. They aren’t just resting on their Chiefs win, overall record or playoff standing. Maxx Crosby needs help on the edge. He is a really good player but he can’t do it alone.

Ultimately, a win this week should be expected but that does not mean it will be easy. Atlanta has little to play for besides blowing up team’s playoff hopes. They can’t exactly do that to Vegas right now. However, the Raiders need to stay full steam ahead as they move through winnable games if they really want to contend. They need this win over Atlanta and next week against the Jets. Both games could be challenges on East Coast time zone alone. Then, they got games versus the Colts and Dolphins which could be important to playoff seeding. Plus, tough division games versus the Chargers and Broncos.

Still, you got to win this week by limiting big plays, stopping the run, rushing the passer and executing the game plan on offense. This is a tune up game but that does not mean we make it a let it down game after a tough loss versus Kansas City. Good teams don’t lose games back-to-back, especially versus teams with worst records.

Just Win Baby!

Playing with The House’s Money on Sunday Night

All division wins feel great but especially a 20+ point victory over the Broncos. It was exactly the dominating win the Raiders need as they rally confidence and winning experience en route to the playoffs. Defensively and offensively, the Raiders looked like a team focused and not distracted by COVID or Denver’s record.

Now, the Raiders will try and stretch their undefeated division record with another game versus the AfC West rivals Chiefs. We now know a lot more about this team since these two last played.

The Raiders proved they did not just get lucky by beating a playoff contending Browns team and two arch rivals. Kansas City continued finding ways to win and add some talent. This matchup is under the Sunday lights.

At this point, the Raiders are playing with the house’s money. The last victory versus Kansas City was the biggest regular season win since the Tay Train on Thursday Night. They proved themselves against the rest of the division. However, every loss counts in the tough AFC Wild Card race. The Chiefs are playing for that solo bye and a chance to redeem their only loss.

Good news, seven of the 10 players from the COVID list this week should play. Many of them starters on defense. The bad news, limited practice time before a game against Mahomes is not advised.

Still, the formula is not changing much. Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker should see a lot of work. The goal is to stay in front of the chains, keep the clock running and control the game away from the Chief’s offense.

Las Vegas continues flashing big play ability but they are still not ready to shoot it out with the Chiefs. They need a strong running performance to open up the play action. Derek Carr continues playing well on third down which should help the Silver and Black maintain long drives. Kolton Miller should return which will help both the run and pass game.

Defensively, the Raiders line looked improved since that first Chiefs game. Nonethless, Crosby can’t be the only threat to get home and sack the quarterback. Maurice Hurst could return this game which gives the Raiders back their best interior rusher.

It also won’t help being down Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell is the Raiders best edge versus the run, he slides inside and played well versus the Chiefs. Carl Nassib and Arden Key will both need to step up. Key doesn’t have a sack this year and Nassib only has 1.5.

The Raiders are also down Cory Littleton. That won’t help them cover the Chiefs dynamic pass catchers at TE or RB. The x-factors are the safeties. Let’s see if the Jeff Heath hype is real.

When the Raiders are good, it’s cause their secondary plays well. The corners get Damon Arnette for this game. He missed the last game and they can use his speed versus the Chiefs.

Ultimately, the Raiders will need 100 rushing yards, a turnover and a big play from their receivers. They can get that and a strong showing from Carr and still lose though. That’s how talented the defensing Champion Chiefs are.

Considering our record and standing in the West, I wouldn’t be mad at a loss. Obviously, another win versus the Chiefs makes a huge statement for the entire league. Either way, playing well on one of the league’s grandest stages is enough given all the adversity this team is facing due to COVID.

PS Takk McKinley is free again. Maybe the Raiders can add him to their defense assuming he passes a physical.

Raiders and Chargers: The One With No Fans

This is the game many Los Angeles Raiders fans circled. The Raiders are in L.A. and opening SoFi without the thousands of fans that cheered them as they won a title for the city.

L.A.’s Chargers almost didn’t happen. That would’ve opened things up for a return of the Silver and Black without the Las Vegas title.

Well, that’s for another universe. These days the Bolts field a rookie sensation QB who might be better than the Raiders starter today. They’ve got an underrated defense even down Desmond King who they got rid of faster than a Sears sale.

Offensively, the Chargers bring a solid group of receivers and backs. The Raiders pass defense will be tested again. Herbert can also scramble when things break down. The DEs will need to be discipline when rushing the prototype.

Las Vegas needs to keep running the ball. They got back to that and squeezed out an ugly win in Cleveland. They will be tempted to shoot out with the Chargers in a dome but the Raiders are a run team.

The Silver and Black rush attack will be down Trent Brown. Brown adds aggression to the entire unit.

Vegas will also need a play from their receivers. Look for Nelson Agholor or Henry Ruggs to make a big play to answer the Chargers offense. They also need Darren Waller to help them convert in the end zone.

As for common opponents, the Chargers lost close ones to the Saints, Buccaneers and Chiefs. The Raiders beat 2 of the 3 as well as the Panthers who gave the Bolts an L.

This game could go either way much like most AFC West games. The Raiders should handle the Chargers if they are serious playoff contenders at the mid point. However, the Chargers are more talented than their record indicates. You definitely don’t want to overlook them or their high powered offense.

The Raiders are only favored by 1.5 points. This game will come down to which offense controls the clock best. The Raiders are set up for that.

A problem will arise if the Raiders get into a shootout, especially if Keenan Allen plays. Defensively, The Raiders don’t have the secondary to matchup with L.A. Another big game from the d-line could even the score.

Ultimately, the Raiders want to win all the AFC West battles. You don’t want to give the young Chargers any hope or confidence.

Taking the Chiefs Challenge

The mentor became the teacher last week. Josh Allen and Derek Carr are from the same region of California. Allen mentioned looking up to Carr and his older brother. However, it was Allen who was throwing strikes downfield.

It is Allen who went from laughing stock a few seasons ago to the postseason last year. It is Allen who has his Bills looking like a real playoff contender. The technique, mechanics and accuracy have all changed so much for Allen since coming to the league.

That’s not to say Carr was bad versus the Bills. He mixed his usual efficiency with a few good deep throws. One which got called back due to a penalty. Carr played well enough again but the defense continued to struggle.

We still don’t really know who the Raiders are. For the second week, they dropped a game to an AFC East team. Vegas looked solid in the first half of both games.

Yet, the Bills and Pats both pulled away in the second half. That’s the difference between a playoff team and a young team trying to be a playoff team. The Raiders haven’t been a second half team in decades. They need to find an identity that includes more aggressiveness and adjustments in the second.

Right now, they are resting on two wins versus the NFC South. Vegas’ defense was mediocre even in those contests. The offense is good but it is still leaving points on the board. That is not something you can afford when your team is young and your defense is mediocre on the best days.

The Champs Enter The Chat

Moving on to the Chiefs, the Raiders play their toughest division foe. Yes, you want to win every AFC West game and beat the hell out of your long-time rival.

However, is that really realistic? Are you making bets with your friends and family who are Chiefs faithful? Probably, not.

Our Silver and Black haven’t shown much versus the Chiefs in years past. They haven’t shown much to beat them this year, either. The Raiders pass rush and secondary are still lacking too much to disrupt Mahomes and cover all those weapons.

The Best Chance

Sure, the offense put together flashes. Their best chance is keeping the ball out of Mahomes’ hands by controlling the clock with Josh Jacobs and the run game. The run game should improve if Trent Brown and Henry Ruggs III end up playing. Both practiced this week and are listed as questionable.

What won’t help the Raiders is the Chiefs getting their best pass rusher Chris Jones back. Hopefully, Brown in the mix can help limit Jones. You can read more about the Raiders offensive line here.

The Raiders also need Ruggs to take the top off an aggressive Chiefs secondary. Vegas got some sparks from Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor last week. I want to see what they do with Ruggs back keeping people honest on deep routes and play action.

Carr won’t get any favors playing in Kansas City. We all know Carr does better in the Vegas home setting than in the cold at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are also one of the few teams allowing fans into game as they try and repeat as Champions this year. Carr has got to step up or Justin Herbert will surpass him as the second best quarterback in the AFC West.

A Hope

As for the Raiders defense, it all comes down to the defensive line again. The Raiders defensive scheme really relies on those front four causing disruption. Johnathan Hankins is strong against the run but we need more pressure from our tackles in the middle. Maliek Collins has not been as great as we hoped. It might be time to see Mo Hurst get even more snaps as he is the best interior rusher on the team. Clellin Ferrell moving inside should be causing more havoc too.

Our ends have been hit or miss both in the run and pass game. Ferrell is the most consistent versus both but he still needs to do more to get home to the quarterback. You can read more on the Raiders defensive line grades here.

Either way, it’s not the Raiders defensive line’s fault their backers are not filling. It is not the d-line’s fault the safeties are taking bad angles or if the corners get beat.

Regardless, the Raiders have limitations on their defense. The best way to neutralize this, especially versus a team like the Chiefs, is with your d-line finding another gear.

Keep It Competitive

Sure, the Raiders are over matched. That doesn’t matter. It’s the Chiefs. You got to find a way to win your division games, especially when you hate your rivals as much as we hate Kansas City.

Moreover, a win would really get the Raiders’ confidence on track headed into the Bye Week. It will give them a key win. We will also be one step closer to knowing if this team is a playoff team or just a young team who is competitive for one half a week, again.

Ultimately, we need this game to be competitive. It will catch the attention of every one if the Raiders surprise the Chiefs this week.

Plus, no one wants to get blown out by their division rival. That might happen versus Mahomes and a high powered offense. In that case, the Raiders have a Bye Week and more out of conference games to lick their wounds.

Point is, the Raiders don’t have much to lose. At the very least, I want them to take some chances and make some adjustments in the second half. Show something different. Do something surprising you haven’t done before this season. Bust out all the stops versus the juggernaut contender.

Don’t forget that Raiders swagger and heart. Just Win Baby! Don’t got out like no punks versus the Chiefs. Don’t quit even if the scoreboard isn’t in our favor.

Should we expect them to win? Probably not. But will we be cheering, praying and hoping? Fuck Yes! It’s a new chapter in one of the oldest rivalries written. Vegas Baby!

Raiders Versus Bills Preview

Las Vegas had a real chance at beating the Patriots. They left too many points on the board by not converting touchdowns in the redzones. Settling for field goals versus a well coached Patriots team is not the answer.

Still, the defense forced a turnover with Johnathan Abram’s interception. Maxx Crosby registered a couple of sacks. Josh Jacobs averaged over four yards a carry. Devonta Booker gained some big chunks. Derek Carr was efficient again with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a high completion percentage. The team missed their rookie receivers.

Either way, the Raiders went into the half with a momentum gaining score. They failed to build on that in the second half. Carr’s second TD also came with the game seemingly out of reach. New England had Sony Michel averaging over 10 yards a carry while Rex Burkhead tore up the Raiders from the backfield as a receiver and runner.

Meanwhile, Buffalo fought off a Los Angeles Rams comeback. The Bills were blowing out L.A. 21-3 in the first half. The Rams came back strong in the second half. They scored 29 to take the lead before Buffalo scored on the final and winning drive.

More On The Bills

Buffalo is 3-0 and looking like a real threat in the AFC East. Josh Allen is second in the league in passing yards as well as completing 70 percent of his passes. He has thrown 10 touchdowns to only one interception. PFF ranks him among the top QBs.

Receiver Stefon Diggs brought a new outside weapon to his team. He’s caught two TDs and two passes form ore than 25 yards. Cole Beasley and John Brown are also playing well. Their running game is also solid with Devin Singletary. The Raiders have their hands full again this week.

On defense, the Bills are strong on the edges with veterans Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy. Rookie A.J. Epenesa also registered his first sack. They are deep in the interior with Ed Oliver, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler and Harrison Philips.

Buffalo’s secondary is among the best in the league too. Jordan Poyer is PFF’s top rated safety. Safety Micah Hyde, corner Tre’davious White and corner Levi Wallace are playing at a high level.

Matt Milano is a force at outside backer with both an interception and sack so far this season. Tremaine Edmunds is an athletic freak. Both will be needed to cover the Raiders’ tight ends.

How The Vegas Defense Stacks Up Against Buffalo

LB Nick Kwiatkoski will return. Our defense was missing him the past two weaks. Cory Littleton needs help.

CB Damon Arnette will miss this game too. Arnette could be out a couple of months.

Buffalo’s biggest weakness is their interior offensive line. That means the Raiders will need DT Mo Hurst, DT Maliek Collins and DE Clelin Ferrell to push the pocket from the interior.

Tackles Daryl Williams and Dion Dawkins are both playing well for Buffalo. Las Vegas will need their ends to step up and apply pressure. It can’t only be Crosby all year.

The Raiders rush defense also looked bad last week. Buffalo may turn to Singletary early and often. RB Zack Moss could also play through a toe injury and give the Bills added physicality at the tailback spot. We can’t afford to let Buffalo establish the run when they already have such strong passing threats.

Vegas will need their safeties to play discipline this week too. Allen has a big arm and the receiving threats to push the ball deep. The Bills also have Beasley to eat up intermediate junk.

The Raiders Offensive Keys Versus the Bills

Offensively, the Raiders will be down WR Henry Ruggs and OT Trent Brown again this week. WR Bryan Edwards is out with an ankle sprain.

Ruggs and Edwards out means more Zay Jones and Nelson Agoholor. Both have made splashes in the early season. Jones is facing the team that drafted him before trading him last year. Hopefully, he is extra motivated and open this week. They’re going to have their hands full with the Bills secondary.

The Rams threw a couple of big passes to Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. That means, Foster Moreau and Darren Waller should both find opportunities to eat this week. Carr has also got to push the ball to all his guys again this week.

Vegas also needs to keep mixing Booker into their run game. He looked good last week and could spell Jacobs. Jacobs looks good as always but we need to keep his legs strong for those AFC West battles.

Don’t be too hard on rookie guard John Simpson. It’s still early in his career. He’s shown some flashes but will have his hands full with Buffalo’s rotation.

What A Mean Would Mean For The Silver And Black Stakes

Are the Raiders in a rebuild or a threat for the playoffs? The answer becomes a little more clear with this matchup versus the Bills.

A win versus the 3-0 Bills could put the Raiders back towards the top of the AFC. It would give them some momentum before next week’s division matchup with the Chiefs.

Losing puts the Raiders at .500. It’s a winning percentage the Raiders can live with through the first quarter of the season. However, we still wouldn’t know how good the Raiders. Is the AFC East that good? Is the NFC South that bad?

Nothing really surprising has happened this year. The Raiders offense looks efficient with Carr and Jacobs leading the way. The defense is still giving up big chunks versus the run and pass. They found just enough stops to beat two NFC South teams.

That is what the Raiders need this week. They need something unexpected versus a well coached and talented Bills team. We need a turnover or a big run or pass to really put Buffalo on their toes.

The Raiders usually find a way to beat Buffalo. Vegas is up 14-5 in the all-time series. Adding to that win total is not out of reach. It will just take capitalizing on the unexpected as well as applying pressure on Allen and creating turnovers.

3-0 in sight? Week Three 2020 Preview

Las Vegas opened with a bang as the Raiders upset the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

The Raiders weren’t without their flaws. Their pass rush was still non-existent. Alvin Kamara and Latavis Murray were effective as receivers and runners versus the Raiders defense.

Our run game still averaged less than four yards a carry. How much can the team ride Josh Jacobs?

Derek Carr completed passes to a number of different receivers en route to three touchdowns and 284 yards. He was efficient as always but took a few good shots down the field.

We got a good long look at rookie guard John Simpson as Richie Incognito left with an injury. Early reviews are good. Rookie corner Damon Arnette took his lumps again. All rookie corners face ups and downs.

Either way, the Raiders face another tough test this week versus the New England Patriots. They will again face a perennial playoff team today.

We all know how they can start slow in those East Coast early start games. Carr won’t have the safety of a Dome. The Raiders haven’t won in New England since the ’90s.

New England is obviously a different team with Cam Newton. Newton already has four rushing touchdowns this year. The Raiders defense needs to stay discipline with Newton in an offense that features many wrinkles.

Last week, the Pats lost a close game to the Seahawks. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was damn near flawless versus the Pats. Vegas needs a similar performance from Carr this week.

The Seahawks also established multiple runners. Las Vegas needs a similar performance from their offensive line as well as Jacobs.

Seattle also took away the running game as Cam Newton threw almost 50 times. He was also their leading rusher as Sony Michel didn’t do much.

The Pats don’t have the same receiving threats outside of Julian Edelman. Edelman went off versus the Hawks and he could do the same versus the Raiders young corners and over-aggressive safeties.

Again, the Raiders need to stay discipline upfront. They need their defensive line to have a big week by staying on their keys but disrupting as much as possible.

On offense, the Raiders will need to keep feeding Darren Waller and Jacobs. Those are their biggest weapons. They also gotta do something to not run Jacobs into the ground. They can’t give him thirty carries while he is battling injuries and expect to make a playoff run.

Thus, starting 3-0 comes down to coaching. Gruden needs to get the fired up like it’s opening night on Monday again.

The defense needs to stay discipline and honest for four quarters. They need to find ways to pressure Newton, especially if he throws the ball a lot again. Our d-line needs to step up and find who they were last year.

Offensively, they need to continue mixing it up with different receivers. Let’s keep seeing some more Nelson Agoholor, Zay Jones and Bryan Edwards. All three made big plays on Monday. Jacobs and Carr need all the help they can go.

This is a winnable game for the Raiders as long as they don’t stray away from the young and explosive team we’ve seen the past few weeks. 2-1 is still progress but 3-0 Is another level. We need every win possible in the competitive AFC West.

Raiders Rants: Week Two 2020, Aldon Smith and More

Imagine almost blowing a double-digit lead to the re-tooled Carolina Panthers? That’s exactly what the Raiders almost did last week versus the Carolina Panthers.

They pulled out the Week One win which we will take but they almost lost it due to a second half run. This gives Raiders fans PTSD considering they haven’t been great in the second half under Gruden or JDR.

This week the competition goes up a step versus the New Orleans Saints. NOLA quietly has a conclave of Raiders Nation but this game will be the first one in Las Vegas. It will be sans fans.

A Win in Perspective

Nonetheless, the Saints have been a perennial contender. They looked like that again in Week One. They welcomed Tom Brady to the NFC South with a few interceptions. New Orleans also kept the running game in check in Week One.

However, Tampa bounced back versus the Panthers in Week Two. They got Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette back on track. I tell you that to show you where Carolina, the team the Raiders got their first win against, stacks up in the NFC South.

Anyways, Vegas is still looking to establish themselves. In Week One, the defense left something to be desired with only one sack and zero interceptions versus the Panthers. Tampa Bay made a couple of interceptions and sacks versus Carolina.

Panthers receiver Robbie Anderson went off for triple digit receiving yards and a touchdown versus the Raiders and Buccs. McCaffrey did his thing in Week One with two TDs and more than 100 yards from scrimmage. He did the same in Week two, although he got hurt.

Also for Vegas, Nelson Agholor took some money out of people’s pockets by scoring the Raiders only receiving TD versus the Panthers. Derek Carr took some shots in that game and finished with a pretty consistent stat line.

Carr Driven By Others

Carr will need more help from his young receivers this week versus an established New Orleans secondary and pass rush. Agohlor is the vet of the bunch and should get more looks.

Either way, Vegas will need to lean on Jacobs to control the clock. Jacobs finished just short of the hundred yard mark versus the Panthers but finished three drives for the Raiders. The Raiders offensive line will need to establish Jacobs early to neutralize an aggressive NOLA d-line.

Otherwise, New Orleans thrives in a dome shootout. Their defense likes to take chances and play aggressive with a lead. Shout out to Dennis Allen, the former Raiders coach we all try and forget about.

Still, the Raiders haven’t proven they have the outside talent to keep up in that scenario. The Raiders’ best weapon will be keeping Drew Brees and that offense off the field. They can challenge this Saints defense by keeping the game close and making them play discipline football.

Defensive Keys

On Defense, the Raiders get some help with Michael Thomas expected to miss this game. Raiders LT Kolton Miller played pretty well in Week One. He’ll have an even bigger test versus the Saints edge Cam Jordan.

Regardless, Brees and the Saints have proven they can find receivers. Emmanuel Sanders knows the Raiders well from his extended time in Denver.

Jared Cook was also a Pro Bowler with the Silver and Black. Alvin Kamara can impact the game as a receiver and runner much like McCaffrey in Week One. New Orleans also utilizes the Tay Train, Latavius Murray. Any of them could have a big game versus the Raiders defense with Thomas’ touches.

Keeping that offense in check will be a matter of disrupting Brees and the backfield. The Raiders defensive line has to keep improving. Please get a sack or a pick this week.

BTW, the Raiders are paying their linebackers and safeties a lot of money. Let’s see some turnovers to give the offense an advantage.

Will the Saints March Into Vegas?

The point is, the Raiders face an incredible challenge versus the Saints this week. It’ll take incredible discipline and everything going right to stay competitive.

What the Raiders do have going for them is momentum from a Week One win and the hype for opening a new Stadium and market. A win here could have the Raiders looking like a contender again as they were early last year. A loss could have them stumble to the middle of the pack with only a win over Carolina.

The good news is that it is still early in the season and the Raiders have more non-division opponents after this game. That gives them plenty of time to establish themselves before the games mean a little more in the AFC West.

More from the AFC West

Speaking of which, what if I told you rookie Justin Herbert almost lead the Los Angeles Chargers to a win over the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. That shouldn’t be surprising since the Bolts have been playing the Chiefs tight the past few years.

Still, Herbert looked good. He took chances that kept drives going. He showed his toughness and leadership on scrambles. Their running game also continued to look good as well as their receivers. The Chargers could quietly have the best QB not named Mahomes if Herbert keeps developing.

One Final Shoutout

Also, shoutout to Aldon Smith. The former Raider who only played a half a season before receiving an extended ban returned to the field for the Cowboys. He lit up the Rams in Week One with a sack, TFL and several more tackles.

Smith came back to reality in Week Two but just seeing him return to the field after battling alcoholism, D.V. allegations, weed and a bunch more stuff is great. I’ve been rooting for him since Day One so I had to shoutout his success one-time.

Anyways, I’m ready for some football and I think Vegas is too.

Week One Welcome Back

There’s a lot to talk about ahead of Week One 2020.

Unfortunately, I haven’t met my duties as a Raiders blogger this offseason. Between COVID and taking in my two brothers and sister, I’ve been busy. I was covering the Lakers, doing a two-times weekly podcast and started my own newsletter. 

However, that all came to a stop when my 14-year-old brother couldn’t go anywhere else and when my 16-year-old sister felt so abandoned by her adopted mother that she ran away 2,000 miles across the country without telling a soul. Them two and my twelve-year-old brother are home with me now.

Football takes on a whole knew meaning when you’re in the Dad life. It’s no longer just entertainment. It’s the time of the week to see friends and be left alone. It’s a past time to share with your family. 

Anyways, back to the Raiders. The Silver and Black have long been my Sunday escape. I probably need it more this year than ever.

New Defensive Era, Please

I am looking forward to finally having a steady group of linebackers. We know the two big free agents Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. They should make not covering the tight end a legend left in Oakland. I am also interested to see Raekwon McMillan in the mix as a run stuffer. 

The defensive line should also improve with another year experience and some dead weight let go. Maliek Collins has been one of the talks of camp. They gave a lot of money to Carl Nassib who should see a lot of snaps. Arden Key and Mo Hurst got to show some gains to stay in the rotation. Maxx Crosby needs no sophomore slump.

Speaking of which, I still would’ve signed another vet like Jadeveon Clowney. They still need that massive disruptor that makes every one else better. I’m not sure if Clelin Ferrell is that guy but they need to give him opportunities all on the d-line to find out.

The back end should also be interesting. The Raiders didn’t make a move there based on the development of Trayvon McMullen and the potential of Damon Arnette. LaMarcus Joyner also go double-digit million reasons to improve. Jonathan Abram needs to stay healthy and deliver on last year’s Hard Knocks hype too.

Offense Leading The Way

On Offense, there’s no excuses. Jon Gruden and Derek Carr Year Three. Plenty of talent. The Raiders have an elite back in Josh Jacobs and line to support Carr. 

His receiver group will miss Tyrell Williams’ size and speed. They will start rookie receivers in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards for the first time since the DHB and Louis Murphy era.

A Thought On Drafting

Which BTW, Las Vegas needs to stop drafting developmental talent like Lynn Bowden Jr. If they are unwilling to do everything to develop him. They traded him for a future pick the same offseason they drafted him despite knowing he was a gadget guy who would take time go hit the field. 

As for the tight ends, the Raiders have a top group. Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Jason Witten and Derek Carrier give them the right blend of size, blocking and pass catching.

This Raiders team is positioned to run the ball and take shots. It will be up to the play caller to make those calls and the QB to execute.

Week One Matchup 2020

Nonetheless, the Raiders face a formidable opponent in Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater is a fellow member of the 2014 Draft class like Carr. Jacobs is not on McCaffrey’s level but both are threats any time they touch the ball. 

The Raiders must do whatever it takes to own the line of scrimmage to disrupt Bridgewater and McCaffrey. Ball will be out quick guaranteed in Matt Rhule’s offense. Shout out to former Raiders receiver Seth Roberts who is on this roster.

On defense, the Panthers are also retooling. They will start two highly regarded rookies. Vegas should dominate these guys early and often.

Carolina also replaces one of the best backers in this generation with Tahir Whitehead. Raiders fans know his liabilities in coverage. Again, circle our tight ends all day. 

Ultimately, this should setup as a nice test for where the Raiders are versus another young team in the middle of a retool or rebuild. It is still hard to look past them given we haven’t seen their offense in the NFL yet. 

Not to mention, we last Bridgewater helping the Saints take command of the NFC. McCaffrey is also the league’s biggest x-factor.

Vegas Days

Regardless, there is no reason the Raiders can’t start the Vegas era undefeated. With or without fans, 1-0 in a new stadium is what our fans deserve. 

We’ve had this looming over us for years, decades really. We finally have a home that is uniquely ours and we can’t even see a game. Damn. I’m also not sure how COVID will impact our tackling or blocking. Will we see more injuries? 

Either way, the Raiders gotta start the 2020s and their tenure in Vegas by Just Winning Baby! This Carolina game sets up exactly like that but it could easily be a trap game if Vegas doesn’t handle business urgently. We are gonna need that confidence from a win versus the Saints and the rest of the AFC West.

Playoffs, 2010s and Winning in Denver

The Raiders gave Los Angeles the homecoming and goodbye it deserved with a big win over the Chargers this past Sunday. That plus some help kept them alive in the playoff hunt.

Sometimes when you win, you really lose.

All week I’ve been taking shit for saying the Raiders don’t deserve the playoffs but it is true. Our team isn’t very good on either side of the ball. We haven’t made a ton of adjustments. Injuries do not help either. All the stats prove that.

Nonetheless, I understand why people are in love with the idea of the playoffs. It is an all new season and a chance to keep playing for a Championship.

Still, if the Raiders do not stand a realistic chance, why show up? Just to say we did. It’s Just Win Baby! Not participation trophies.

Sure, if Tennessee and Pittsburgh lose maybe they don’t deserve the playoffs. However, there are already enough wins from the Raiders season that they don’t need one more blowout loss to the Chiefs or Texans to hinder the confidence of their young players. They don’t need that to be the lasting memory pending free agents have.

Instead, I’d rather have the Raiders finish where they are. An 8-8 team with promising prospects over their division with a 4-2 AFC West record assuming they beat the Broncos. That’s enough for me.

You want to sell stumbling into the playoffs off win over the Chargers and Broncos as added value? Nah, I’m good. Raiders got hella picks and a new stadium coming. A Playoff loss ain’t gonna do anything. I’m good on the false hope and failing up.

Let’s take a higher draft pick and go into the offseason with something to prove after missing the playoffs by a game.

The end of a decade

Playoffs or not, the Raiders will play their last game of the 2010s. This decade will go down with the 90s as the only two decades the Raiders never made a Super Bowl.

How will we remember this decade? What will we remember?

It’s fitting the Raiders are ending the decade as a 7-9 or 8-8 team. This decade was really a mixed bag of high expectations, underachieving an chaos. We saw the team figurehead and owner die. We saw four head coaches and two GMs.

We had a plethora of QBs before landing on one. Every other position was pretty much a revolving door of draft picks and bargain free agents. Many of the ones we developed left and few of the ones we signed really developed into anything more than what they were.

The team made the playoffs once, maybe twice if they make it this year. Otherwise, they were basically had no chance every other year.

We are closing out a stadium too. Ending the flooded toilets and baseball field but also saying goodbye to the most unique NFL market and tailgate experience.

Thus, the 2010s was really just a blur. IT was a mixed bag of false hope and just getting by,.

Luckily, the Raiders prospects for the next decade appear to be much higher. We know who the GM, Head coach and home market will be for the foreseeable future. We got plenty of draft picks and cap space. The players are young and the culture is brewing. Peace out 2010s.

Beating the Broncos

The formula for beating the Broncos is going to be the same as any week. The Raiders won last week because their secondary stepped up, they created pressure and their receivers made some plays. Oakland will need all that this week too.

The Raiders secondary will get challenged by Courtland Sutton. He’s big and fast. The Broncos tight ends are also solid.

Upfront, the Raiders got to pressure rookie quarterback Drew Lock. The tougher issue is doing that while also not creating too many cutback seems or running lanes for Phillip Linday or Royce Freeman. We know that Broncos offensive zone scheme too well.

Offensively, the Raiders also got to see if Hunter Renfrow can make good on last week’s performance by doing it again. Denver’s defense is far from the greatness earlier this decade but it is still really good in spots.

The o-line will face Von Miller. Our offensive line is going to need to step up like they did last week, especially since four of the five starters were on the injury report last week. Moreover, the Raiders are going to be without Josh Jacobs. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are playing for contracts and roster spots next year. They did well last week but they need to do it again too.

Ultimately, the Raiders should win this game. Yes, it’s on the road and they are banged up but they have a sizeable advantage at QB. That is if Carr can actually get his life together and win a cold weather game.

Either way, the Raiders need to win this game. Not for the playoffs but for themselves. For their jobs and pride. F the Broncos!