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.
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.