Keys For Battling The Mack Attack And More From A Weird Week For Raider Nation

Forget about the Raiders and Chargers on Monday Night. It is not worth remembering the poor line play, ineffective running game and our QB falling into old ways.

Vegas got 21-0 skunked in the first half after the lightning delay. They came out and made plays but they never really got the offense rolling on full cylinders. Former Raiders TE Jared Cook also cooked em. One more reminder the Raiders have a long history of not covering tight ends. 

Truth be told, I won’t remember much about the game thanks to the food poisoning I got from that SoFi hotdog. What I will remember is all the Silver and Black surrounding the stadium in rain and shine. I will remember Hunter Renfrow looking like a safety making a play on fourth down. There were also notable highlights from Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller and Derek Carr. 

Still, the defense was not horrible. They kept getting in bad spots thanks to poor offense. Their secondary was also banged up. The offense took too long to wake up and they did not capitalize on a few big plays.

Either way, the Raiders find themselves looking up to the first place Chargers. The Raiders, Chargers and Broncos are all tied for the division’s lead now. It’s early in Justin Herbert’s career but it feels like he already has our number. It is his second time beating us in his young career.

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More Chaos From The Week

Our week got even weirder as Mercury continued in retrograde. First, it was Derek Carr talking about Joey Bosa’s reaction to the win. Carr felt disrespected by Bosa saying he falters under pressure and after big hits. Carr said he did not know why he said that?

C’mon Derek, you don’t know why he said that? Bosa has played and studied Carr as much as anyone as they are only a season apart and played their careers in the AFC West. Carr’s whining just made him sound weak after he got outplayed by a second year QB. It wasn’t all Carr’s fault but he did not sound like a competitor with the Mamba Mentality. There was no need for him to even respond.  

Then, the week got even weirder as the NFLPA director tried to get elected for another term. A report leaked Jon Gruden using a racial trope when describing NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith in 2011. 

Obviously, it is not a good look for the Raiders who have always stood for diversity and inclusion. However, let’s not act surprised.  Our bosses probably say the same shit in their emails. What he said was stupid and offensive but firing someone for an email sent a decade ago sets a bad precedent. 

Regardless, the Raiders shouldn’t get punished because Gruden was not even with the organization at the time. To be determined if anything bad happens.

Moving Onto the Bears This Week

Moving forward, the Raiders face a familiar face with Khalil Mack coming to town. Good teams find ways to bounce back after disappointing losses.

Mack comes into the game with four sacks for the season and he could double that if the Raiders offensive line does not improve from last week. Robert Quinn is also having a renaissance season with 4.5 sacks this year. That’s already more than double his sack total from last year. He is a big part this team leads the league in sacks.

On the other hand, the Bears will be down defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Hicks really disrupts the middle of the offensive line which makes it easier for the edges and linebackers to make plays. The Raiders will happily take all the help they can get after their front five looked terrible last week. Linebacker Roquan Smith will still be roaming the middle. 

This Bears defense has played together for a while but they are not dominating like before partly due to bad spots caused by poor offense. 

Rookie QB Justin Fields turned in his best game in his second start. However, he has thrown two interceptions and only completed 49 percent of his passes across his two starts and four times playing. The only time he found the end zone was by rushing in Week One. The Bears should intro more QB running with Fields as the full-time starter and the Raiders aggressive defensive line. Fields also brings arm strength to stretch the field which is something the team missed with Andy Dalton. Allen Robinson, Marquise Goodwin and Darnell Mooney offer big play threats. Jimmy Graham could also have an awakening much like Mike G. and Jared Cook found ways to carve up the Raiders the past couple weeks. 

Starting running back David Montgomery is on IR so former Chiefs starter Damien Williams gets the start. It will be his most significant role since he left KC and opted out of last season due to COVID. 

Further, the defense allowed the 11th most passing touchdowns and the 13th most rushing yards. Chicago beat Detroit and Cincinnati but lost to the Browns and Rams. They sit at 2-2. 

How Can the Raiders beat the Bears?

This game could get ugly if the Raiders offensive line does not improve this week. They made a move by starting Brandon Parker and moving Alex Leatherwood to guard. Parker has been up and down his career but he has developed since coming into the league from a smaller school. Parker’s presence should help as long as he doesn’t lose confidence like he did last year versus ATL.

Hopefully all that size and athleticism will help the Raiders maul the Bears defensive line in on the right side. We’ve seen KO, Khalif Barnes and Denzelle Good all hold down the guard spot after playing right tackle so Leatherwood could follow that lineage. That still won’t answer questions at center or the other guard spot. 

This starting offensive line rounded out by Andre James, John Simpson and Kolton Miller is really a cast of homegrown and drafted players. Miller is the only proven starter. The rest of the group must step up to keep the Raiders postseason hopes alive and validate this front office’s questionable draft history. 

Either way, the Raiders should have the edge in the run game with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. They need to pound the rock to neutralize the Bears pass rushers and get this offensive line some confidence. 

Otherwise, Derek Carr gets an instance chance to redeem himself versus a great pass rush and a defense that wants to create turnovers. Again, it’s a careful balance between managing the game and knowing when it is time to make a big strike. Carr walks that line between keeping his team in the game and making the play that will help them win.

The running game will help Carr get that balance. It will keep the pass rushers off him and allow him to setup the play action. 

Defensively, the Raiders gotta limit lapses versus the tight end. They will also be down two of their top four corners with Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen both set to sit with an injury. This week’s receivers won’t test the Raiders like the Chargers last week. However, they’ve got speed and size to make the Raiders pay if Justin Fields is given too much time in the pocket. Allen Robinson is still one of the best receivers in the game and we can not let him get back on track versus us. 

Raiders Please Make This One Easy

When Was The Raiders Last Blow Out?

Thus, the Raiders must double down and establish their identity at home this week. Let’s see them get an early lead and force the Bears sputtering offense to force big plays. Vegas should run the ball, take deep shots and don’t turn the ball over. Pressure the young quarterback, don’t get beat deep and stop this running game from getting established on your way to a decisive win.

The Silver and Black must show their identity versus a middle of the road Bears team if they want to stay in playoff consideration. Impose your will, dominate this team or whatever cliche you need to eliminate any questions about the Raiders’ legitimacy.

Don’t let Chicago stay in the game by giving up sacks, getting beat for big plays or letting this running game get established. All eyes will be on our corners. Yes, we’re short-handed but everybody got to step up. Great teams don’t lose to so-so or good teams. We will have a better idea where the Raiders fall on the ok to great team scale by how they come out after a loss.

Can Carr and Gruden make the necessary adjustments to help this team avoid another midseason collapse? Prove this ain’t last year with a decisive win over a Bears team that is trying to find themselves. Carr and Gruden need conversations focused on their performances again, rather than the off field stuff too. Just get back on the winning track this week.

Oh, and please stop comparing Mack and Madd Maxx. Totally different players.

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Keys to Blacking Out the Bolts In Prime Time

When the Raiders take on the Chargers tonight, there’s a good reason many anticipate a home game. That’s what Derek Carr called it already and that’s what we’ve experienced each time the Raiders come to Los Angeles. This is the city where they won as the Oakland Raiders won a ring and they are the only team from L.A. to earn a Lombardi for Los Angeles. The Vivid Seat data backs all that up, citing 74 percent of seats sold for this game went to Raiders fans.

There’s a good reason why this is a primetime game. The Chargers are 2-1 and playing well. Las Vegas is 3-0. Both teams look playoff-bound but could easily mess it up. The Bolts always find plenty of ways to lose to the Raiders in a close game too.

Anyways, there isn’t too much to say about the Raiders 3-0 win over the Dolphins. It’s the first time the team has been 3-0 since their perennial playoff days in the early 2000s. Most teams that start that well make the playoffs as well. Nonetheless, they barely beat a team that was down their starting quarterback.

Still, this year feels different. Vegas found a way to win when they found a way to lose to Miami when it could last year. The Raiders ran the ball down their starting running back Josh Jacobs this time. They threw at a variety of receivers. Six receivers finished with three or more receptions. Byron Edwards continues to flash. It was the Silver and Black’s second OT win at home this season.

Their defense wasn’t a total liability. They did get a couple sacks despite losing contain on Brissett. Mike Gesicki had his best game of the season and reminded us of our past lows covers the tight end. This was also the first game in the early season where the Raiders didn’t force an INT. They did bend too much in their run defense as well. Both Malcolm Brown and Myles Gaskin carved them up for more than four yards a carry.

The point is, the Raiders still found a way to win a winnable game when that game probably would’ve gone the other way in seasons passed. Now, the Raiders face their biggest test as they take on a division foe that has made their own breakthroughs.

What’s up with the Bolts these days?

Justin Herbert deserves all the hype he is getting. Dude is off a game where he scored four touchdowns in the air and beat the reigning division champion. Mike Williams is finally having his breakout moment after 7 receptions, 122 and 2 touchdowns versus the Chiefs. Herbert registered 956 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions through three games.

Williams could be a problem for the Raiders due to his size and ability. The former Clemson standout registered at least a touchdown and a catch for more than twenty yards in each game this season.

The Chargers offense is still figuring out the offensive line, tight end and running game. They’ve been trying to make Jared Cook a thing all offseason. The Chargers are eighth in yards per game but rank 18th in points per game. Cook has had at least six touchdowns his last three seasons so they hoped he would help them in the red zone. He found the end zone once but it got it reversed. He has no TDS so far this year.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has been effective as a pass catcher and runner but he is not on pace for 1,000 rushing yards. Ekeler is averaging over five yards a carry his last two games, along with registering multiple receptions.

Yet, he only has one touchdown and one run more than twenty yards. The rest of the running backs are not even seeing enough touches to know if they’re a threat. Vegas can not let the Chargers running game gain any confidence with big runs or bursts that move the chains on first and second down.

Cook won’t be the only notable player with a past playing in this game. Former Chargers corner Casey Hayward, linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley all hold the same positions with the dark side.

Offensively, rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater seems like the real deal. Otherwise, the rest of the offensive line group is a hodgepodge of veterans. The weakest point is the Chargers’ right tackle with Storm Norton. The Raiders’ defensive ends must take advantage of any 1-v-1 with Norton.

Defensively, Joey Bosa only has 1.5 sacks this season but his impact is still seen on every play. If the Raiders don’t get better play from their offensive line, Bosa could easily build confidence early and often. The Chargers are still trying to figure out the edge spot opposite Bosa, since Melvin Ingram left.

The Bolts could also be down linebacker Kenneth Murray who went down with an ankle injury in practice this week. L.A. already allowed the 9th most rushing yards this season so the Raiders should exploit that by giving the ball to Jacobs or Barber early and often.

Veteran corner Chris Harris Jr. also missed two games with a shoulder injury. He could miss this one too. Asante Samuel Jr. won defensive rookie of the year a few weeks ago so don’t overlook him either. He is part of a pass defense that allows the sixth least passing yards per game.

The Bolts also have safeties that can help contain Darren Waller, at least on paper. It’s hard to bet against the Carr-Waller connection even versus Chargers safety Derwin James.

Conflicts aside, I own Chargers tickets really because the stadium is down the street and it makes financial sense for me to sell the other 8 games just to get a seat for the Raiders each year.

How do the Raiders Beat the Chargers?

This will be a game decided by whichever defensive line can impose their will on the opposing offensive line. Both teams have liabilities at the right tackle spot so whatever team figures out how to patch that leak will win. Whatever team exploits that best will be that much closer to stopping the opposing team’s MVP-caliber QB.

Otherwise, the Raiders must carve the Chargers up on the ground early and often. There is no reason the Raiders should not have a 100-yard rusher, especially if Jacobsplays and Murray is out. Running the ball will also keep Bosa and company on their toes. It protects Carr and sets up big shots in the play action. It also keeps the defense from having to defend Herbert and those big receivers on long drives.

Further, the Raiders must limit big plays in the run and pass. This run game is hit or miss but the Raiders defense must prove they are a hit by not letting Ekeler wear them down. It could also also be the game Jared Cook pays out considering what the Miami tight end did last week.

The last thing you want to do is give the Chargers momentum when they will be playing at home in front of a visiting crowd. That is why the defensive line will be so important again.

This whole unit plays off the energy and hussle of Maxx Crosby. Yes, we need Crosby to beat Norton and Slater for sacks but he also can’t let them get any confidence with run blocking. Defensive tackles Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas are equally important as they must push that pocket and prevent a sneaky athletic Herbert from making anything happen as he steps up in the packet.

If the Raiders can sack Herbert, that keeps the Chargers pass-catchers from exploiting one-on-ones over smaller, less athletic defenders or finding breakdowns in the zone. It also gives the Raiders secondary a chance to make a play on any mistakes Herbert makes. He has not been perfect, throwing an interception in the first two games this season.

L.A. is favored by three points at home which means this game could go either way. Both these teams have pasts that include them finding ways to lose. Each AFC West team is trying to prove those days are behind them.

Either way, a win here could help with positioning since the Chargers are 2-2. The Broncos got embarrassed by the Ravens even if they are both still 3-1. A Chargers win creates a three-way tie for first while a Raiders win puts them in the driver seat of the West almost a quarter of a way through the season.

There is no reason the Raiders can not win if the Raiders can make the Chargers QB go down hard and fast. Double points if the Raiders can establish their will with the run game and deep shots as they have in three wins already this season.

No Trap or Revenge Needed in Week 3 Vs Miami

Is it really different this time?

The Raiders are 2-0 much like last season. This time their defense is receiving a lot more praise off standout performances from Solomon Thomas, Carl Nassib, Maxx Crosby, and more. 

Also, Derek Carr is getting a lot more praise and recognition this time around. Dude is already amidst lots of MVP conversations. The Raiders are also doing it in Las Vegas and with fans in the building. Much different than last year’s COVID season. https://www.getrevue.co/profile/silverandblog

How Did We Get Here?

Listen, I’ll take beating the Steelers any day. However, we got to acknowledge that they were down two key starters with Devin Bush and Joe Haden out. Trai Turner left the game due to his own B.S.

One side of the coin, the Raiders beat two tough AFC North teams which will be critical for playoff seeding. The other side, the Raiders beat two overrated AFC teams with major injuries.

Either way, it’s clear the Steelers are a solid team. I think they took more lateral steps this year than many expected. However, many said the same thing about Baltimore last week. The Ravens just answered any questions about their contention by upsetting the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.

There were a lot of things to love about Sunday’s win. Trayvon Mullen made a crucial pick that reminded us all our DBs are actually legit now. Casey Hayward still ain’t given up a reception.

Solomon Thomas came up big with two sacks. Mad Maxx Crosby kept up his pressures and hits on the QBs. The run defense improved thanks partly to K.J. Wright. They held Pittsburgh’s key rookie rusher to under 40 yards for the game. Starting tight end Eric Ebron was a non-factor for the Steelers thanks to improved linebacker and safety play.

On offense, Carr was 28/37 with no interceptions. The Raiders quarterback earned his MVP consideration all week. More importantly, he was 4/4 on deep passes. Carr lead PFF and ESPN advanced QB metrics last week.

Henry Ruggs also eclipsed 100 receiving yards and scored a touchdown. Daniel Carlson converted a game winning field goal and had his highest scoring game in his young career.

Otherwise, there were some ugly moments. The tussle between Turner and Crosby earned them both fines this week. Najee Harris stiff-armed Johnathan Abrams’ soul. The Raiders gave up some deep plays to the Steelers.

Our Silver and Black never really established the run game either. The offensive line played well enough but they were far from perfect.

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Keys Versus the Dolphins

Don’t call Week Three a trap game. Yes, the Raiders are favored. Nonetheless, Vegas will need to show they can beat a struggling team without struggling. This will make Raiders Nation feel like things are finally different this time.

We also can’t forget the Dolphins lead a miraculous comeback that ended the Raiders’ playoff chances when these two teams played last year. Carr didn’t play in that game last season but this time the Dolphins will be down their starter. Jon Gruden still won’t call this game a revenge game since Ryan Fitzpatrick is long gone.

Regardless, Miami damn near got mercy-ruled last week as the Bills gave them a 35-0 loss. Tua left the game with a ribs injury and Jacoby Brissett entered. Brissett will make his first start since 2019 after throwing an interception in limited action last week. He should find himself under constant pressure as the Raiders defensive line comes to town.

Miami has not done anything too scary on offense this season. Still, Davante Parker is a big name and he brings a big body that should give the Raiders some problems in the end zone. They’ve got a phenomenal rookie and Will Fuller should return this week too. Vegas will have to respect Brissett’s legs and Mike G. at tight end. Yet, the Dolphins have yet to find a featured back.

On defense, Miami features a solid mix of young players and veterans. Corners Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are among the highest paid duo in the league. You add veteran safeties Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty, along with nickel Justin Coleman. This young Raiders receiver group will get tested. There’s a reason why some think this can be a trap game.

Moreover, Christian Wilkins is a beast. John Jenkins and Emmanuel Ogbah compromise a versatile front that could cause problems for the Raiders offensive line that features some inexperienced players due to injuries.

This team is also well coached with Brian Flores. Also, shout out to former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie who has been a part of the Miami front office since leaving Oakland.

Keys To Beating the Phins

If the Raiders want to beat the Dolphins, they have to establish their identity. That means running the ball effectively enough to get short second and third downs. It means converting downfield shots without turning the ball over. The Raiders have done that for the most part the last few weeks.

Now, their offensive line must step up and do it against a tricky Miami front. They can’t take any steps back just because they are the favorites. We can’t kill ourselves with penalties or let them hang in the game.

One-on-one, the Raiders young receiver corps face a tough matchup versus the Dolphins. They can answer any questions about the group with a solid games versus the Phins. Vegs should win if Carr can continue his efficiency while also stretching the field. Again, Carr’s success will rely on the success of his young receivers, offensive line and hobbled backfield.

This is also a prove-it game for the Raiders’ secondary and defensive line that is capturing national attention for their turnaround. Don’t let Miami find their rhythm in the run game or gain confidence with big scramble plays or pass completions.

Even if he wasn’t the Week One starter, Brissett is not a bad player. He could expose the team if they don’t play discipline. The Vegas defense can’t have any lapses versus a hobbled Miami offense that appears subpar on paper. It’s about establishing their dominance with turnovers and big hits but also playing with enough discipline to keep the Phins from having a chance.

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Ultimately, the Raiders can prove they are not the same team that collapsed in the second half of the last two seasons by dominating a team they should beat at home. They can show their defense is real by a third straight strong performance from the defensive line, along with continued consistency in the secondary and increasingly improved play by the backer.

Offensively, this young group should benefit by many reps versus a stout Dolphins defense. It is up to them to prove themselves in the trenches and one-on-one from the outside. We know what Carr and Waller will bring in terms of efficiency. Kenyan Drake could also use a big game on the ground versus the team that drafted him. Drake has been a weapon in the air but the Raiders will need him to make some big rushing plays as Jacobs continues battling injury.

The Raiders handling the Dolphins should continue building playoff momentum and rhythm for the young Raiders offense and defense. It’s a chance for a statement made over a team that narrowly edged them out over some B.S. last year. A statement that says we aren’t just the same Raiders as last year. Plus, who doesn’t want to be 3-0 heading into Chargers week on Monday Night?

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Good, Bad and Other Takeaways Before Steal City.

Good news, the Raiders won their opening matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night. It was an official blessing to the Silver and Black’s new home in Vegas.

Bad news, Vegas almost didn’t win. Even worse, Denzelle Good went down with a season ending injury.

Good suffered the injury in the first game of a new deal and role. He really stabilized the unit with his versatility the last couple seasons. The offensive line was also already a shallow group.

That means John Simpson should start again even if Richie Incognito returns. I still don’t know why Brandon Parker hasn’t gotten an opportunity to kick inside. 

Either way, the guards will be tested versus Pittsburgh veterans that include Cameron Heyward. Reviews about new starters Andre James and Alex Leatherwood were mixed. They made plays but also some curcial penalties and mistakes.

Josh Jacobs and Yannick Ngakoue both sustained long-term injuries too. Jacobs will miss this game but Ngakoue is expected to play hobbled in Week Two.

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Week One Flashbacks

Baltimore nearly sealed the game after the Raiders thought they won off a play that was stopped at the one. Carr threw a pick off a receiver a few plays later. There was a lost kicker too. 

Nonetheless, the Raiders won off a Zay Jones wide open catch. I told you these games against Baltimore usually come down to one play or the finish. 

Familiar rivals like Justin Houston and Sammy Watkins made big plays for Baltimore. Raiders fans will remember them from their days terrorizing us with the Chiefs. Latavius Murray also found the end zone after signing with the team just days before Monday Night.

All week since, Maxx Crosby and Carl Nassib earned praise after the win. Crosby registered enough sacks and TFLs to earn AFC player of the week. He was a constant force against the run and pass. Nassib helped get the ball back with a strip sack towards the game’s conclusion. Finally some turnovers! 

I’ve been critical of Nassib for a while now. He flashes on a play or two but hadn’t developed the consistency. Same for Maxx who struggled last year with more teams scheming for him. Both showed out when we needed them most. Don’t take away from Nassib making big plays in what was first regular season game since coming out. Nassib got his number called and delivered on the field while making history off the field.

More bad news came from the running game with Josh Jacobs getting hurt. He is ruled out versus the Steelers. That is a huge loss as the Raiders need to control the pass rush and clock with the run game.

Either way, Kenyan Drake earned a big contract for this exact reason. It wasn’t just to be an explosive, change-of-pace and gadget player. We knew a time would come where Jacobs needed rest and getting Drake was great insurance. It’s not like the Silver and Black haven’t employed multiple great rushers at the same time.

I don’t think any of us expected to need Drake this early but it is better than not having him. Hopefully, Jacobs doesn’t turn on too much McFadden PTSD with these lingering injuries. 

It wasn’t a particularly good game for either rusher. The best run play of the night came with Marcus Mariota earning 30 yards from his sub-package. The good news was Jacobs found the end zone a couple of times. 

On the other side of the ball, Yannick Ngakoue also sustained an injury. Many thought it would limit him this week and further. However, he practiced this week and he is expected to play versus the Steelers. 

If Ngakoue can’t go, the Raiders will need Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell was a healthy scratch versus the Ravens. 

The Raiders will need him and Solomon Thomas to prove those top-10 draft grades. Gerald McCoy also went down with injury last week. The vet was just gaining momentum and a role in the rotation. Ferrell and Thomas will be needed both inside and out moving forward.

Old School Rivalry

Every one reading this knows the ball hit the ground. However, many of these players in this week’s Steelers and Raiders showdown won’t remember the Immaculate Deception. In fact, there aren’t many familiar faces since the two franchise faced off in 2018. The most prominent returns are the two quarterbacks.

Derek Carr played well enough last week. He had one part where he had seven in completions. He almost sparked a riot on Raiders twitter after that INT. Carr redeemed himself with the winning TD. Otherwise, it was rewarding to see him take and convert shots down the field. I still don’t think the Raiders will win a Super Bowl if he is forced to through the ball 50 times.

That’s why the loss of Jacobs is pretty huge. The Steelers want to run the ball too. They didn’t complete many big shots versus the Bills last week, despite their slew of explosive receivers. Their offensive line is reloading. Big Ben Roethlisberger played well enough last week. At this point in his career, is Big Ben a game manager?

We will see versus the Raiders. Baltimore isn’t exactly loaded at any skill positions, yet they found success through the air and running the ball. Look for Pittsburgh to try and get their offense in rhythm with the run game and some more deep shots.

If the Steelers can contain the Raiders’ rush, that could spell some confidence for the Pittsburgh passing game. However, they’ll only go as far as the offensive line and run game goes. This should be an old school game with both teams trying to establish the run and dominate the trenches.

Versus the Steelers, the Raiders defensive line faces a cast of new faces. Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Andrew Villanueva once held down this offensive line. All those names are gone from Pittsburgh’s roster. 

Insert Trai Turner, Joe Haeg and JC Hassanauer. All experienced players written off by their former team. The Steelers swung last year’s starting right tackle to the left side. Point is, the Raiders should make Roethlisberger uncomfortable. He was sacked by the Bills twice last week. 

Najee Harris caught the attention of many fantasy owners before the season. However, he underwhelmed in his first game. Harris averaged less than three yards a carry. Pittsburgh should look to get him touches early and often. The Raiders surrendered rushing yards last week.

Pittsburgh rush defense wasn’t much better. They surrendered 65 yards to Devin Singletary. Again, Drake is going to be huge this week. Whatever team can establish the run will win this game.

The Steelers did sack QB Josh Allen three times. Pittsburgh also kept Stefon Diggs and the Bills receivers from scoring or completing a deep pass. This means the Raiders could have trouble completing the deep passes they converted on Monday Night.

The Vegas offense completed several passes over 20 yards to a variety of receivers. Can they do that with TJ Watt rushing on every play? 

The Major Key Versus Pittsburgh

Both teams should make big plays as both defenses can bend. The real test will be which defense lasts the longest and doesn’t break. Double critical that both defenses find a way to create turnovers and get stops in the red zone.

Ultimately, the deciding factor will be the run defense. Both teams have a slew of receivers they want to feature. However, the pass rush from both teams should neutralize that. Both secondaries seemed improved although it is early.

Regardless, the team that can get the run going will get the opposing defense on their heals. That also controls the clock and forces these offenses to take big shots. Well both teams want to convert big plays, I’m not sure either will be comfortable if they find themselves in a situation where they must force big shots if either one is down big.

Instead, I suspect both teams will setup their shots strategically of the run game. Both teams will benefit from protecting a lead and allowing their pass rushers to just get up field and create havoc.

Vegas is on the road though. They’re also down their best back. That means they will rely on big play passing game a bit more.

In the end, we’ll take beating the Steelers no matter what. Let’s protect that 16-13 all-time record. Plus, this game could have potential AFC Wild Card implications given the strength of both divisions and the added game this season.

Whatever quarterback can make a play without costing their team usually wins this game. Big Ben and Derek Carr have both had their shares of comebacks and big plays. They’ve also come up short or turned the ball over in big spots. None of that got anything to do with Sunday so whatever quarterback can balance the game managing with occasional gun slinging will win.

Whichever quarterback can use their run game to control the clock and pass rush will find themselves more easily converting downfield plays too. Coincidentally, an opposing offense playing catch up usually makes it easy on the leading team’s defense.

Bottom line, the Raiders need a win here to make everybody feel a little bit better about barely beating the Ravens. The world was watching and Vegas barely squeezed one out. This time a decisive win over an old rival could get all the haters to see the new commitment to excellence.

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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.

Carr Stannery and Beating the Titans

Stop the Stanning

It is hard for me to remember an issue more divisive than the future of Derek Carr with the Raiders. For the past year or so I’ve been writing the end is near for Carr and there is not much he can do about it. Carr is a fine enough quarterback, unfortunately, games like the last two weeks show us that he is not elite nor enough to put this young team on his back. That’s OK. It’s a reality.

D.C. will always be my guy. He’s statistically one of the best quarterbacks in franchise history. For the better part of six years, Carr has been our only hope.

However, those days are numbered. It’s not all on Carr but this team doesn’t have the time to wait for Carr to take a leap he should have already taken. This team is already in the middle of a soft rebuild and relocating. Carr might be the captain that steadies this ship but he has taken it as far as he can go. Somebody else is needed to take this team to the promise land.

Nonethless, Carr stannery is weird and unnecessary. I’ve always kind of swam against the mass of Raider Nation, for better or worse. However, Carr is more divisive than Rolando McClain, Kahlil Mack’s trade, Amari Cooper, Aldon Smith, Darren McFadden and the laundry list of issues we argue about.

I get it Carr shows flashes. He has the intangibles. But if it isn’t enough to win on the East Coast, in the cold or over the Chiefs than it does not matter.

The awkward part is the number of fans who would rather enable their favorite quarterback than face the facts.

No where in the Raiders Nation code of ethics does it say commitment to solid or good. It does not say just be mediocre baby.

The Raiders need to win and that starts with their signal-caller. Fans don’t need to PR or defend Carr. He is a grown-ass man, paid a ton of money. He knows how this game works. Carr saw his older brother go through it. He knows he is accountable and his win, loss record is not where it needs to be.

Granted Carr could turn everything around with a good game and by winning out. If Carr makes the playoffs he will certainly buy himself more time as the Silver and Black franchise player.

Either way, it might not be enough to erase the fact he is closer to game manager than an elite QB.

Win or Go Home versus Titans

Speaking of making it happen, Carr and the entire Raiders need a show out. Oakland still has a long shot at the playoffs if they win out. That is all void if they do not beat Tennessee first. The Titans are ahead of them in the standings.

It won’t be an easy feat. The Titans are running the ball well with Derrick Henry. Their offensive line is physical. Ryan Tannehill is playing well. The defense is sleeper good, especially if Harold Landry is drawing Brandon Parker as a consistent matchup at right tackle.

Still, Tennessee is beatable. They also draw the Saints and Texans twice so they are far from a lock for the playoffs.

This is a prime opportunity for the Raiders to redeem themselves. Their playoff hopes were looking good before that huge loss the the Jets. Now they are back at home and playing one of the hottest team’s in the league.

A win on Sunday could give the Raiders the confidence they need headed into a final playoff push.

It is going to take their defensive line having a huge game. Oakland’s defense has been my key for basically the entire season. Break out games for the unit like versus the Chargers result in wins.

Even average games aren’t enough when the offense struggles like they have the past two weeks. The defense has actually been solid enough to win the past two weeks. Too bad the offense put them in many bad spots and did no favors.

Still, the defensive line needs to force Tannehill into bad throws. They got to stay discipline too because one bad move and Henry is cutting it back to the house.

On offense, it is clear Josh Jacobs can’t do everything. He had a major game versus the Chiefs but it was not good enough largely due to bad play by Derek Carr and all the Raiders receivers.

Carr needs help from someone not named Jacobs or Waller. He needs one of his receivers to make a big play down the field.

Ultimately, the Raiders are built to pound the football and throw it deep to their receivers. That requires Carr to not turn the ball over as well as receivers getting separation and making a catch.

In the end, the Raiders will need Derek Carr to make a play. He should be able to outplay Ryan Tannehill at home with the season on the line. But if he doesn’t we might be having a different conversation next week.

It would be great if the Raiders could get both sides of the ball playing up to par at the same time. That’s what we need to do to beat the Titans and have any shot at the playoffs.

 

 

What we want to see versus the Bengals

The Raiders whooped the Bolts butt and it was amazing. I got to witness the greatness of the Raiders in its native home one last time. Shoutout to the Sacramento butcher who hooked it up with a nice cowboy steak. Also shout out to the dude who stole our compact toll box grill. The compact size was incredibly crucial for this quick turnaround. That is the last ride I guess for the limited edition grill.

Well it is on to the Cincinnati Bengals. A team the Raiders have always had weird ties to. The Bengals are currently headed towards a massive rebuild. Here’s what we want to see as we look to look for as we head to the playoffs.

Can the defensive line keep up the pressure?

Last Week, Clelin Ferrell had his break out game with 2.5 sacks versus the Chargers. A couple of those were discounted sacks due to Philip Rivers holding the ball too long. The Chargers O-line is also pretty bad versus any kind of speed.

All well, we will take it. the Raiders young defensive ends needed that confidence booster at home versus a rival and they should build on that versus the Bengals. They’ll be playing with a young quarterback Ryan Finley and down key players like AJ Green who have been hurt all season.

Hence, the Raiders should get another really strong performance versus the Bengals. Cincinnati also happens to be Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s previous team.

Maintain Offensive Momentum

When I said other key players from years past I meant corner Dre Kirkpatrick who is also missing most of this season. The Bengals defense is already in a transition year with other key players missing time too.

That puts the pressure on the Raiders to score. Let’s see Oakland score early and often. Give Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams some load management. They’ve been battling various injuries that need rest and there is no need to kill yourself versus the winless Bengals.

Oakland should use Jacobs to establish themselves early then take their shots with Tyrell and company. I want to see Zay Jones make an impact today too versus the Bengals. Derek Carr should dominate and spread the ball around.

The Replacements

Oakland’s safety has been fluid for a few seasons now. They lost Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joyner who were their best players and veteran leaders. They signed edge Dion Jordan and safety DJ Swearinger to help out. Swearinger should see some time but who knows. Erik Harris played the best game of his career and Curtis Riley has played and started for the Giants before playing in spots this season. Opportunities are limited there for Swearinger.

I’m most excited for Jordan because he has the highest ceiling. His tools are something you can’t teach and he flashed two seasons ago with the Seahawks. The Raiders have plenty of solid guys who can play but they need a specimen like Jordan who can win 1-on-1 pass rush on the edge, even if it is only in spots.

Ultimately, the Raiders need to handle their business as the football cliche goes. They need to build on the last game’s big performance, dominate early and lean on some lesser known characters to send the Bengals home one loss closer to the No. 1 overall pick.

No Bye Week Blues, Zay Jones and No Pack No

No Bye Week issues this year minus Trent Brown’s off-the-field civil lawsuit for alleged DV against an ex girlfriend.

The Oakland Raiders beat the Khalil Mack led Chicago Bears in London, the Silver and Black acquired Zay Jones and they’re sitting above .500 in the playoff pick.

Either way, the Raiders are in a good spot in the bye week. Tyrell Williams got an extra week to rest his feet and Gabe Jackson is expected to return from preseason injury.

Zaytoven

I need a Zaytoven signature drop every time the former Bills receiver scores. Because his addition is music to my ears. The six-three receiver can bring the Raiders harmony once they get speedster receiver Tyrell Williams back from injury.

In the meantime, Jone might be the Raiders best receiver. He will make his debut as a key receiver with an extra week passed to have learned the playbook and Derek Carr. Jones never had more than 700 receiving yards in Buffalo but he did set the receiving record in college for career receptions. He was also a solid deep threat and had the agility, strength and explosiveness to be a second round pick in 2017.

It is a low risk move for the Raiders who could not rest on good enough to beat the Bears during the bye. Jones can hopefully bring some depth and possession receiver skills to Oakland’s corps which needs it all.

That means we should get a good read on what Jones will bring to the team, where his chemistry with Carr is and more this week. He could easily be the DaVante Adams (Carr’s college favorite target), James Jones or Michael Crabtree with his size and speed combination. Hopefully he can give the Coliseum reasons to dance when a Zaytoven drop hits after a TD.

No Pack No

Most of all, the Raiders get an extra week to figure out how to stop A-rod and the Packers offense.

The Silver and Black will also get challenged offensively. Green Bay paid for a couple of pass rushers with the last name Smith who are playing well this season. Add in Amos and a young, improving Packers defense is set up to take away Derek Carr’s downfield passing aspirations.

Of course, the Raiders are going to do their best to wear that front seven down with their run game and catch the secondary slipping on play action passes. The game is still gonna come down to Derek Carr matching No. 12 for the Packers.

Bad officiating aside, Monday Night Football showed Aaron Rodgers doing what it takes to help his team win. As long as the game is close, Rodgers always keeps them in the game. It will be Carr’s job to do the same for the Raiders. Carr needs to find ways to keep drives alive and answer the Packers’ momentum in a hostile environment.

Speaking of which, the Raiders haven’t won in Lombeau since the 80s. Social Media is already showing Raider Nation deep in Green Bay. Why Not?

This is an old rivalry of two small NFL teams dating back to Super Bowl II when these guys play. They’re the most iconic names and fanbases in all of sports.

We Talkin’ about Playoffs?

It should be a good game and a chance for a statement win as 5-1 Green Bay could be without several key receivers and Jimmy Graham.

Suddenly, the Raiders find themselves with the same amount of losses as the first place Chiefs who will be without Pat Mahomes at least a bit after his knee injury. Denver and Los Angeles seem underwhelming in the AFC West which gives the Raiders a good shot at the playoffs.

Before all that, they got to figure out a way to tell the pack no on defense. They managed without Vontaze Burfict on defense and kept running the ball with Trent Brown out a few weeks. They will need to do more against a Green Bay team that seems finally ready for Super Bowl contention again thanks to an improved offense and more skill around Rodgers.

This will be a telling game for the rest of the Raiders season. How do they come out on the road after a bye? Are they hyped and ready to go or sluggish? Do they come out with new formations on both sides or is it more of the status quo? What other adjustments can this coaching staff make to keep the Raiders competitive versus a very talent Packers team.

We find this all out today when Oakland plays the Pack as a 5-point underdog. If the Raiders can pressure Rodgers and get a turnover, they got a shot. That is especially true if  Carr can get the offense rolling again early like versus Denver, Indianapolis and Chicago.

This game will tell us if the Raiders are that team that won decisively in those three games. Or were they the team that got dominated by more talented Vikings and Chiefs teams?

Remember, Green Bay beat the Minnesota team that stomped the Raiders. They also beat the Bears so this game could honestly go either way.

It will be up to the Raiders to come out fast and smart early. They got to prove they’re not overmatched and they’re willing to win a physical game or shootout it a hostel environment. This will be the week where the Raiders show us if they are pretenders or contenders.

If they capitalize on the Packers injuries and find ways to score on offense, they got a chance to join the AFC’s strongest teams. Otherwise, a loss might expose them as the .500 team they are desperately trying to maintain.

2019 Raiders Draft Notes from Petty Pete

All bets are off this year for the Raiders draft. No one can really accurately predict what will happen since this is Mike Mayock’s first draft with skin in the game. Not to mention, the Silver and Black and Jon Gruden are always a wildcard.

Here’s what I’m expecting from the Raiders draft.

A trade

Everyone is talking about Oakland’s four picks in the top-35. That’s fine but the team doesn’t have a third or sixth round pick thanks to the Antonio Brown trade. I don’t expect Gruden or Mayock to stay pat with idle thumbs.

That means a player like Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes, Karl Joseph or another holdover might here their name called in a trade for some mid-round draft compensation. This team is fully in on out with the old and in with the new so I don’t expect the draft to be any different.

Moreover, they could also trade up or trade back. Either of those scenarios are realistic because the Raiders have so much capital and so many needs. Still, I’d side on adding more picks since this team is desperate for help at the starting and depth positions.

An elite defensive player

I don’t care if it is fourth or twenty-four, the Raiders got to get them a player to build their defense around. Devin White, Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa or Josh Allen would all be vast upgrades early. However, a top-end talent like Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Clelin Ferrell, Ed Oliver or Christian Wilkins all could be top-10 talents too. They have more questions than the first group but they would definitely be steals if the Raiders wait to select one in the twenties or trade into the teens. Even at the top of the second, they might find an impact player like Nasir Adderly, Rock Ya-Sin or any number of DBs who can make an instant impact.

Playmakers across the board

Speaking of playmakers, I said this last year and we walked away with a bunch of hoggies. That’s cool and all but this year the Raiders need playmakers on every level of their defense. They could also afford to add some explosive help around Derek Carr. Regardless of position, the Raiders need to take some productive players with high-upside who can develop into big-time playmakers. It really doesn’t matter the position.

Still, I like Noah Fant or any of the tight ends early. I wouldn’t rule out a RB like Josh Jacobs or Miles Sanders. X-Factors like A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Hollywood Brown and others might be too good to pass up.

A QB

No, I don’t expect Haskins or Murray to the Raiders. I know that hype continues building but please don’t put ass through another young-QB development phase. Still, I think the Raiders take a QB. Their backups don’t exactly jump out of any page except draft busts. I could easily see the old-school Mayock and Gruden taking some sort of QB in the draft. Tyree Jackson could be a steal late or how about Will Grier in the middle rounds? Their nowhere polished but they could develop into something if you believe in Gruden’s genius.

We will find out what a Raider is…

Above all else, I believe we’ll find out what Raider in 2019 looks like. Mayock had that quote early in the offseason talking about how he and Gruden were working together to see what culture they want to build and what players fit that.

After tonight, we’ll have a much better idea what that means in for the Silver and Black. So far, we’ve seen them sign overrated Trent Brown, wild-ass A.B., Vontaze Burfict and a bunch of other experienced veterans like Crowell. There really isn’t a lower common denominator in that equation. However, we’ll have a better idea what that looks like after tonight.

More Questions

Overall, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders attack the defensive line, offensive line and secondary in this draft. Is the team still high on Gareon Conley and Joseph or is it time to ship them out and/or find their replacement?

Oakland addressed the offensive line in free agency but they still need depth and maybe a guard… Oh yea, don’t forget all that draft capital they put into the offensive and defensive line the past few seasons. Does Mayock and Gruden still value those guys like Arden Key, PJ Hall or Kolton Miller? I expect one if not all may compete for playing time (not just starting time) this year.

Moreover, how do politics factor into this draft? Will Oakland accept Nick Bosa if that’s the pick?

Tune in to the Draft all this weekend. It should be a hell of a ride. Hopefully the Raiders don’t burn a third round pick for a receiver with question marks or give anyone a franchise QB for basically nothing, cough 2018 draft.

Check out my full seven-round Mock Draft too.

A win and more draft busting

Last week the Oakland Raiders beat the Arizona Cardinals in a close game. Nothing to boast about considering the Cardinals started a rookie QB who the Raiders basically traded to Arizona for nothing. Still, Oakland’s defense made enough plays to win the game.

Of course, that cost the Raiders in the race for the No. 1 pick. The Cardinals are in the driver seat for the top pick with that loss.

Derek Carr doubled down on the team’s success by saying he wants to continue winning games. Carr said he wants people to be mad at him for ruining the team’s chances at a top pick.

See this wouldn’t be a big deal if the Raiders hadn’t traded two of their best draft pieces. Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack were both trade for first round picks. However, the homegrown talent now has their current team’s in the playoff race. Mack has the Bears looking like a Super Bowl caliber defense. Dallas is back in the playoff picture since acquiring Cooper. That means Oakland’s added draft capital is going to come in the middle to back end of the draft. It’s hard to find impact players that late especially when you consider both Mack and Cooper were top five picks.

Nonetheless, Carr needs to just play good. Forget the wins and losses, Carr just needs to elevate his game and prove us wrong that way. We’ve seen what Carr can do with no talent around him. He’s not that kind of player.

Sure, it’s not all his fault he’ll beat his brothers record for the most losses in their first five seasons. However, he doesn’t not deserve blame either.

The point is, Carr needs great players around him. That’s what the Raiders did in 2016. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they’ll be able to get that talent around him again before his confidence gets ruined on another losing team. The draft is crap shoot and the Raiders would need to hit instantly on all three picks to look like a contender next year. They’ve abandoned too much draft capital over the past few years so they lack talent in many places on the roster.

If Carr really wants to prove people wrong, he better elevate his game. DC is my boi and he would be great on another team with talent. He has the great leadership and talent to thrive somewhere he isn’t the focal point. Carr lacks that ball placement, pocket poise and decision making you want in an elite QB.

That means, Carr must use these next six games to show he’s an elite player and convince Jon Gruden he doesn’t need to draft a QB. Otherwise, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Raiders cash in their very good player for the chance at a great one in the draft.

The key to stopping Lamar Jackson

In other news, it’s looking more like Lamar Jackson will make his second start this week versus the Raiders. Jackson had the most rushing yards for a QB since Colin Kaepeenick. Jackson also showed some throwing ability which shouldn’t be a surprise given his history as a Heisman Trophy winner.

This is probably going to be a real challenge for the Raiders who have already lacked pass rush and discipline across the defensive line. Expect Baltimore to do a lot of misdirection to keep the Raiders defense on their toes. Containing a dual threat player like Jackson means applying pressure but also being discipline when plays breakdown. Players like Arden Key have got to step up.

Key has the length and acceleration to be a real disruptive player. However, he’s gotta work on his awareness. That will be tested this week as the Ravens rely on spread option and play action concepts meant to take advantage of Key’s aggression.

If Key can stay in his lane and react well, he should get some opportunities to make plays versus another rookie. Either Way, the Raiders have their hands full with Jackson in front of his home crowd. He can use one play to ignite his whole team which makes him a true phenom.

Other things to watch versus the Ravens

Seems like the Raiders have played the Ravens every year the past few seasons. Last year’s matchup ended in a narrow win for Baltimore but the Raiders won the previous two season’s close contests. This game should also be close. The Ravens looked like a contender than lost a bunch before Jackson emerged as a new hope.

Now, they’ll play an Oakland team off a nice win and looking like they finally have a bit of an identity. We can’t forget Michael Crabtree playing against his old team. However, most of the team and coaches he new left with the changing of the guard.

Regardless, the Raiders secondary looked improve last week. The Ravens receivers have been hot and cold. That will be a key matchup of inconsistent players.