The Oakland Raiders (1-0) will take the field for their home-opener versus the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) later today.
Here are a few predictions from today’s week two regular season game.
Receiver Michael Crabtree
Too much has been made about the matchup between Julio Jones and Amari Cooper as the two receivers were drafted from Alabama. Part of that comes from the mutual respect between the two elite wideouts. Both have complimented each other via various media outlets this week.
Neither player will actually cover each other. Not to mention, both defensive-focused head coaches will make sure their scheme includes different looks for each respective receiver.
Therefore, this game has the makings of Michael Crabtree’s breakout performance. The 29-year-old receiver caught 7-of-9 balls for 87 yards in week one. Now, he faces an Atlanta team that ranks No. 12 in passing yards to opponents after one game.
Expect Crabtree to build off his game-winning, two-point conversion last week.
Sean Smith versus Atlanta’s receivers
Speaking of receivers, the Raiders must defend Jones, who caught 136 passes for 1871 yards and 8 touchdowns last year.
He only had four catches, 66 yards and one touchdown versus the Tampa Buccaneers in week one. Look for Atlanta to try and establish him early.
Granted, Atlanta is only 5-4 when Jones eclipsed 100 receiving yards, according to Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton.
Hence, a big performance from Jones does not equal a win.
Still, Oakland will need corner Sean Smith to play better this week. Don’t expect Smith to shadow Jones as the Falcons’ No. 2 receiver Mohamed Sanu is also a big target.
Either way, the Raiders paid Smith via free agency to become their No. 1 corner. He will need to rebound from a poor performance last week. I think he will answer the call, regardless of who lines up in front of up.
The Raiders’ rushing attack
Currently, Oakland ranks No. 1 in rushing offense. Attribute most of that to a dominating performance by the offensive line. However, give some credit to rookie Jalen Richard for busting a long-run last week.
This week, Oakland will need another big rushing play. Latavius Murray should consistently gain yards as the feature back, but who can take a long run for points?
Will Richard hit another homerun? Could Taiwan Jones or DeAndre Washington get a turn to take it to the house?
The Raiders need the long runs to keep their offense balanced. Either way, this will be a prove it game for the Raiders rushing attack.
Atlanta: 24, Oakland: 31
Atlanta’s defense ranks No. 13 in rushing yards given up to opponents and No. 8 in rushing yards per attempt. That will change as Oakland will control the line of scrimmage and the clock with their running game. Even without their starting right tackle, Austin Howard is expected to replace Menelik Watson this week, Oakland will impose their will at home.
On defense, I expect the Raiders to rebound from getting shredded last week. It is reported that Ben Heeney lost his duties as the playcaller of the defense. Malcolm Smith will have to play better as he fills that role. Both players visibly struggled attack blocks and making tackles versus the Saints. Pro Football Focus graded Smith as Oakland’s worst defender last week. You can read more about last week’s struggle in the middle via ESPN insider Paul Gutierrez.
Smith and the entire unit will play better as the Raiders sort out their defensive line rotation. Expect Justin Ellis and Dan Williams to see more time in the middle as Atlanta fields a solid rushing attack behind Tevin Coleman and Devonte Freeman.
I like the Silver and Black by seven. This should be another thriller. Here is how you can view via Silver and Black Pride.