How the Raiders can beat the Saints

The Raiders are 2-4 in a loaded AFC. The Colts, Bengals, Chargers, Patriots, Dolphins and Jets all sit above them in the AFC Wild Card race. That does not even include the four division leads. Vegas needs a win bad.

Big Game in the Bayou

They face a Saints team battling injuries at receiver, offensive line and quarterback. Andy Dalton has had his days versus the Raiders. Taysum Hill could give the Raiders backers problems. Tre’quan Smith and Marquez Calliway give the receiving until big play ability across rookie Rondale Moore, even without Michael Thomas or Jarvis Landry. The Saints offensive line is good, led by the trio of Erik McCoy, Andrus Peat and Ryan Ramczyk. Alvin Kamara is a big play and versatile nightmare for the Raiders. New Orleans is top-10 in rushing yards, which means the Raiders must play discipline in the run game and find ways to get off the field.

Don’t make it easy on New Orleans

Vegas needs Maxx Crosby to have some company. Bilal Nichols and Clelin Ferrell need to rush the passer. Andrew Billings needs to push the pocket. Chandler Jones needs a big game on Andy Dalton. Don’t let Dalton just sit back there dumping the ball to his playmakers uninterrupted. New Orleans has a top-10 passing attack in terms of yards.The Raiders secondary needs to make tackles on Hill and Kamara. John Abram and Trevon Moehrig have played terrible. No more blown coverage. The Saints have tons of speed outside, which can hurt the Raiders.

Establish the run

On defense, the line Saints line is big, physical and length enough to give the Raiders some problems. Cam Jordan is among the best at his position in this generation. He already has 4.5 sacks this season. Marcus Davenport has length and explosiveness to give the Raiders tackles some issues. Linebacker Demario Davis finds his way to the ball. Josh Jacobs is going to be challenged. Jacobs needs to keep the Raiders offense ahead of the chains.Vegas is much better on third and short than third and long.

Find the mismatches

Safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu also have a nose for the ball. The Honey Badger knows the Raiders well from his seasons as a Chief. New Orleans will be down two of their main corners including Marshon Lattimore. This is Davante Adams and Mack Hollins time to eat. The Raiders must take advantage of their speed and physical presence outside. For sure, Waller and Renfrow will need to take advantage of Adams getting shadowed and double teamed. Adams got to set the tone early and often. Every time he touches the ball he is a threat so the Raiders must give him some touches.

Execute

This team showed what they are capable versus the Texans. It does appear the team is gaining an identity with Josh Jacobs and Adams leading the offense. They still could have started a little faster if we want to get picky.

On paper, the Raiders should beat the Saints. Vegas has more talent and less injuries than New Orleans. People point to this as the easy part of the schedule for the Silver and Black. The Raiders still have to prove it by executing. Fans know anything can happen on the road.

Stick to the plan

It’s no coincidence Jacobs went off in both the Raiders win. He was running that hard even when they were losing their first three games. The offensive line was figuring it itself out but Jacobs looked like he was running with intention. Vegas’ interior offensive line improved their surge and double-teams which is why Jacobs finally started getting free.

If they Raiders get Jacobs gong again this week I’ll say they are starting to get some momentum. This team needs to get to .500 before I feel like they learned how to win or close games. The Raiders have to prove they can do it in back-to-back weeks on the road before they look poised for a climb back into the postseason conversation.

Throw in some play action

Vegas needs to utilize some play action to get the Saints biting in the middle if the field where Waller and Renfrow run. The offensive line needs to be on its best behavior for that game plan to work. The last thing the Raiders want is third and long where the Saints ends can just get upfield on Raiders tackles that can easily get beat by speed and strong hands.

Hollins is making us forget Bryan Edwards and Seth Roberts. He needs to keep taking advantage of mismatches and gaps in coverage. Foster Moreau also could be an x-factor due to his ability to block well and slip through coverage.

Sprinkle in a play or two

The Raiders defense is also going to need to keep stepping up. Duron Harmon has made plays in the Raiders wins and losses. He needs support from the young guys around him, especially if the defense takes big lumps. Moehrig and Abrams need to make plays if they are going to give up plays.

Denzel Perryman also needs to make his presence felt without getting exploited in the pass game. Abrams and Divine Deablo gotta make tackles. Ferrell needs to show he can get off his blockers. Nichols needs to anchor the run. Billings gotta stay on the field and find ways to push the pocket. Yeah, I wrote that twice. This Raiders defense needs someone besides Harmon and Crosby to make a play. 

Keep building

If the Raiders can get a turnover, sack the quarterback more than once, get Jacobs established and feed Adams then they will beat the Saints. That formula should beat most teams. Vegas needs to execute by staying ahead of the chains on offense and getting off the the field on defense. A road win over the Saints should help the Raiders feel more confident headed into Jacksonville next week. It might help this team finally feel like they found an identity to build on too.

Raiders vs Titans: Keys for Vegas to avoid 0-3

The Las Vegas Raiders are a few plays away from easily being 2-0. They lost their first two games by less than a score each. Both times they had opportunities to win the game. Unfortunately, they went the other way and the Raiders are still desperately seeking their first win this season.

Derek Carr’s play, especially on last week’s final drive, inspired lots of conversations. The offense was ineffective in the second half, after looking very good in the first half. Vegas could’ve put the Cardinals away with a score multiple times. Carr looked out of sync with Renfrow and Adams on the final drive.

Vegas also could have sealed the game with a kick, instead of throwing the ball to Hunter Renfrow. The Raiders could have also handed the ball off but they looked aggressive for the first time in the first half and the wrong time. That’s on coaching.

The Raiders defense played in mud in the second half. Tackling Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is tough, especially when the offense does you no favors. They used a rotation and found success staying in their passing lanes in the first half, but they looked gassed late in the second half. Some blame falls on the front office for sitting on cap space, trading Yannick Ngakoue, bringing in Chandler Jones, and not drafting an interior player.

Raiders must rebound

The real Raiders will show up this week. They lost a close game to a division rival in Week One and lost an emotional game in the home opener. Derek Carr played bad in one game and decent in another. The defense has had moments of good and bad.

Right now, we look like a team that can’t overcome injuries or their own issues. It looks like the new coaching and regime reconfigured away their edge, an edge that helped them secure a playoff bid last year. The X’s and O’s are better this year but the Raiders got to put it all together and win.

Ultimately, the players must execute but the people behind the scenes hold them accountable and puts them in positions to win. How the Raiders respond from getting a game stolen from them will determine if this team can will itself back into relevancy. They could come out emotionless and flat. Tennessee will look for their own spark at home.

Therefore, the Raiders must come out like they won the last two weeks. They must come out like they believe in each other and this coaching staff. It’s still early in the season but the Raiders must show some resiliency.

Playoff teams aren’t built, they are created. The Raiders must show they know how to win and expect themselves to win with a big outing versus the Titans. They can’t keep settling for less than excellence if they want to prove themselves as a postseason team. Vegas’ response is a statement because the Titans will not go down easy.

Tennessee needs a win too

The Titans got popped by the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions and running back Derek Henry was held to less than two yards-per-carry on 13 carries. Former Raiders end Denico Autry landed the team’s only sack in the contest. The Titans forced zero interceptions and the game got out of hand with four Buffalo scores in the third quarter.

In Week One, The Titans gave up a big lead and couldn’t score in the final quarter. They took a one-point loss to the Giants. Henry didn’t surpass 100 yards in that game. Tannehill played a bit better with no interceptions and two touchdown passes. Rookie Kyle Phillips was their leading pass catcher. The biggest difference was Tennessee got five sacks in Week One. Jeffrey Simmons registered two sacks. Edge Rashad Weaver registered a sack and Edge Bud Dupree got to the quarterback once. Tennessee might not have an elite pass rush without Harold Landry but they can beat lesser matchups.

More games, more injuries

The Raiders are favored by two on the road, which tells you how far the Titans have fallen. Both teams are trying to avoid going 0-3, while fighting key injuries.

Josh Jacobs traveled to Tennessee despite missing a couple of practices with illness. Jacobs didn’t do much with many carries last week but that’s more on the Raiders being without Andre James. The Raiders are going to need the run game with Hunter Renfrow out. Vegas relies on Renfrow for intermediate work but they’ll need to stay ahead of the chains with the run game this time.

Jacobs should finally get loose this week or we could finally get Zamir White some touches. James was a limited participant in practice this week after missing all last week with a concussion. The Raiders will need James to help the Silver and Black contain Jeffrey Simmons. Either way, the young interior offensive line should benefit from another week’s experience. They must do better getting a push for the run game.

Getting Tre’von Moehrig back is also big for the Raiders. He brings added size and range to the Raiders pass defense. Safety Duron Harmon made consecutive big plays in over time in Moehrig’s place. The Raiders should roll with more three safety looks as linebacker Denzel Perryman will be out again this week.

Run game must get started

The Raiders’ chances for success increase as the run game gets going. Vegas must get push on the double teams and keep Jeffrey Simmons out of the backfield. Keeping the offense out of 3rd and long is key to maintaining drives and scoring.

Get the ball to Adams

No Hunter Renfrow puts pressure on Derek Carr on those third downs. He’s got to find ways to get the ball the ball out fast and down the field. We know Carr and Davante Adams have chemistry but we did not see that in the Raiders overtime. Adams should get the ball early and often. He can get open on every play but Carr’s got to get him the ball down the field. The Raiders need the deep element of their offense to reach their potential. That starts with Carr getting the ball downfield to Adams on any down.

Rely on tight ends

Beyond that, Carr must use his tight ends. Darren Waller and Foster Moreau can counteract the defense’s focus on Adams. Moreau and Waller are walking mismatches even if the Titans have solid safeties. Both can help the Raiders move the sticks.

Don’t forget Henry

On defense, the Raiders must stop the run. The Titans receiving core is nothing compared to the last few seasons. Tennessee needs a big game from Derek Henry and that will be hard with Taylor Lewan out. Henry still always finds a way to tear up the Raiders. Vegas must play discipline and make tackles. Don’t let Henry take this game over with a big burst.

Take the ball away

Additionally, the Silver and Black must find ways to get off the field. Last week, they got killed on long drives but they had opportunities to end the offense’s momentum with a sack or interception. This week, the Raiders must find ways to come up with a big turnover or two to get off the field. They should also get chances to force Ryan Tannehill into a mistake. Lewan out leaves the Titans without their best run and pass blocker. Tannehill will take a chance here and there. It’s up to the Raiders defense to do something when Tannehill takes a chance.

The Raiders defense has made enough plays to win but they have not made the play that helps them win like Arizona did last week. Vegas must force its way off the field by capitalizing on a couple of turnovers.

Make plays, not excuses

Vegas walked into this season with big expectations and now it’s time for them to deliver a victory. It’s time for Derek Carr to prove he’s not ‘that muthafucker,’ or maybe he needs to prove he is. It’s time for this defense to prove their improved with new leaders and key players. It’s time to prove Adams made his decision for football reasons. It’s time to prove Josh McDaniels and the front office knows what they’re doing.

If the Raiders come out and set the tone with their offense by utilizing their mismatches and their defense is not totally crushed by long drives, there is no reason they can’t beat a Titans team that is also suffering from injuries and identity. A win for the Raiders could help them finally get a bit closer to builder an identity.

Don’t forget, the Aces won a title. The Silver and Black are the only Vegas franchise yet to deliver a title. 0-3 just puts a title that much more out of reach.

Raiders Versus Cardinals: Keys for a Week Two bounce back

How did we get to 0-1?

A sunny morning consumed by moisture-filled clouds made L.A. feel like Oakland on a Sunday Morning. It set the table for a Raiders homecoming win over their rival Chargers. However, Justin Herbert and the Chargers had other plans.

The last time these teams played in SoFi, the game was delayed and the Bolts came out to a big lead over the Silver and Black. They held on for a home win but it felt like Raiders home loss. Raiders Nation turned out to welcome their team back to the market they once called home. This game was no different as the tailgate lots filled with Silver and Black trucks, flags, popups, grills. and every other tailgate essential.

Vegas got revenge by eliminating the Chargers from postseason play in the final week last year. L.A. remembered that and came out sharp and relentless. Not only were they healthy, but they also featured new offseason acquisition Khalil Mack. Mack was draft by the Raiders in the same class. as Derek Carr. You could argue No. 52 was one of the Raiders best draft picks ever.

Mack had his way with the Raiders, similar to last season when the Bears upset Vegas in Jon Gruden’s final game. The Chargers new pass rusher finished with three sacks, including a game winning one in the fourth quarter.

Herbert continued to show he did not fear battling Carr and the Raiders. Herbert evaded consistent pressure and threw strikes down field. L.A. looked like the better coached team. They also had more urgency than the Raiders under new head coach Josh McDaniels. However, the loss wasn’t that bad.

The Raiders made a few crucial mistakes that cost them the game. Carr took a few bad sacks and failed to convert on a few opportunities. The running game never caught consistent rhythm.

Upfront, the Raiders offensive line struggled versus the Chargers front as a whole. The defensive line found ways to get pressure but never got home. Both groups flashed but neither dominated at any point.

Collectively, the defense did enough to keep them in the game. They made a four-down stand and forced four punts. Although a turnover or sack would have helped their performance.

What was the atmosphere like?

Again, the Raiders dominated attendance in Los Angeles. You saw the fights and the antics, despite SoFi cutting people off at halftime.

We met Raiders fans from all over California. There were folks from L.A., Vegas, Fresno and elsewhere. After the loss, I walked around the stadium trolling Chargers fans.

“Buy my season tickets, please!” I chanted in my Raiders jersey.

It was reminder that I’d be there the next 50 years. It was also a reminder that the team was still having trouble building a fanbase, even with a super competitive roster.

Overall, Chargers fans were fine. The ones next to us teased in good fun. They put up with our drunk shenanigans and my section was relatively peaceful.

Pushing onto the Cardinals

Moving forward, the Raider go back home with a chance to earn their first win in the McDaniels’ era. The Cardinals are off a more than three-score loss to the Chiefs. Kansas City did the Raiders a favor by beating the Chargers in Week Two, a few nights ago. Vegas can win this game and move to 1-1, tied with the Chargers. Kansas City will still be in the driver’s seat of the AFC West but a loss will push the Raiders down further, especially if the Broncos beat the Houston Texans.

Arizona is expected to play without some speed at receiver as Rondale Moore and Andy Isabella will both miss the game. Key defensive players safety Jalen Thompson, end JJ Watt and corner Trayvon Mullen are all listed as questionable. Mullen could miss his return to Vegas, a few weeks after the Silver and Black shipped him out for a late draft pick.

Vegas will miss center Andre James if he misses this game. He had one of his best games as a Raider and held that line together best he could. Safety Tre’von Moehrig and linebacker Denzel Perryman could also miss some time which leaves big vacancies in the secondary. Cardinals TE Zach Ertz could have a big game. The Raiders will also be without one of their bigger corners, Anthony Averett, which could make A.J. Green a big red zone threat.

The McDaniels Era began

Don’t blame last week’s loss on preseason rust. The Raiders did not play a lot of key players in the preseason and there was an extended break between Week One and the final week of the preseason. Still, that’s not an excuse for getting outplayed by the Chargers.

Still, we can’t jump down McDaniels just yet. The real test for any coach is how his team responds after a loss or a bad half. This will be the real test. Can McDaniels steady the ship and keep the Raiders moving forward?

At the very least, the Raiders looked a bit more competitive with their play calling. The defense and offense both mixed things up in ways that past regimes did not. It’s on the players to execute now. This team holds veteran leadership at key positions with Carr, left tackle Kolton Miller and receiver Davante Adams. They must prove they can bounce back from a Week One let down.

How can the Raiders beat the Cardinals?

Arizona got away from the run game because they were down to the Chiefs fast. Expect them to stick with that longer, especially if the Raiders come out slow at home. Vegas ends also got upfield a lot last week, so expect some misdirection with backs and lots of action from Kyle Murray.

The Cardinals offensive line is a mix of veteran players you might recognize from years on other teams. It is up to the Las Vegas’ defensive line to take advantage of winnable matchups versus experienced washouts. They can’t go another week with no sacks.

All eyes should be on Chandler Jones going against the team he played for the last six seasons. Maxx Crosby led the league in pressures and hurries last week but he needs some help from Jones and the rest of the d-line. If the defensive line can make some plays on Murray, the Raiders should walkaway with a nice home win.

Offensively, the Raiders will need to do well in blitz pickup. That’s especially true if James misses this game. The Cardinals will try and mixup their blitzes and packages, not unlike what the Raiders will do with their defense.

Of course, Vegas features one of the best receivers and tight ends in the game. It’s up to Derek Carr to get the ball to Darren Waller and Adams early and often. That should open up plays for Hunter Renfrow in the intermediate and Josh Jacobs on check-downs. The Raider high-powered offense should come out swinging and put up points early like the Chiefs did versus Arizona.

Jacobs also needs to get going in the run game. This offensive line needs confidence. Helping Jacobs gain some yards should help the entire offense control the clock and gain some momentum. Jacobs will be crucial to protecting a lead as well as opening up the play action.

They must establish their identity by running the ball, pushing the ball down field, stopping the run and getting home to the quarterback. If the Raiders execute how they are supposed to, there’s no reason they can’t beat the Cardinals decisively.

Raiders fans waited for this moment for 20 years

Finally, the Raiders made the playoffs. No hurt quarterback asterisk on this playoff berth. No second-half season collapse derailing a winning season.

Vegas finished the season with an OT win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders’ biggest win in 20 years almost resulted in a tie. That would’ve let the Chargers in the playoffs instead of the Steelers so I am not sure many would have complained. Still, forget your timeout theories. It is just win baby, not just tie maybe.

The biggest difference maker in that win included the Raiders pass rush and run game. Chargers QB Justin Herbert nearly erased all that with his straight up skills. This week the Raiders draw an equally young and poised quarterback in Joe Burrow.

Looking For Revenge

Last time these teams faced, the Bengals clapped the Raiders in Vegas. The Silver and Black will travel to Cincinnati for this round. Honestly, I am not sure the Raiders could have gotten a worse opponent.

Joe Mixon is a big and physical runner who can break one on any play. He carved us up for over 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals pulled away late thanks to the toll Mixon makes defenses pay.

Burrow completed 20/29 passes in the regular season game. Cincinatti brings size and speed on the outside. This could cause matchup problems as the Raiders secondary been banged up all year.

The Bengals defense is a sleeper. Eli Apple got a pick last time these teams played. They also threw in a couple sacks while a defeceit voided the Raiders run game.

Nonetheless, the Bengals are beatable. They lost to the Chargers and got swept by the Browns. Cincinatti barely beat the Jaguars and lost to the Jets and Bears early too. Their key victories include wins over the Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers and Vikings. They narrowly lost to the 49ers and Packers for what it is worth.

Which Squads Shows Up?

All that doesn’t really matter entering the playoffs. It’s win or go home and the Raiders have had just as many peaks and valleys as the team in stripes. Vegas is going to need a spectacular outing from their entire defensive line. Burrow is among the best versus the blitz so the entire defense must stay discipline. The Raiders registered three sacks along the line in the November game. Let’s double up this time.

One of the reasons the Raiders won 5-of-7 down the stretch is Josh Jacobs’ resurgance. His 132 rushing yards last week versus the Chargers helped them control that game. He also rushed for over 100 versus Denver but the Raiders have found ways to win even when Jacobs is ineffective.

Derek Carr has been mostly up this season. He is top-6 in passing yards and top-12 in passing touchdowns. Carr is also top ten for interceptions. Burrow is right behind him for yards and picks.

Versus Los Angeles, Carr did not have a crazy stat line. However, he didn’t throw any interceptions and scored two touchdowns. That’s exactly the Carr the Raiders need on Saturday. Take calculated risks. Move the chains and score touchdowns. Don’t make mistakes. He threw an interception versus the Bengals but was otherwise efficient.

Hopefully, Darren Waller is available. Waller’s last 100 yard receiving game versus the Bengals. They are a different team when they have Waller stretching the middle of the field. With Foster Moreau, tight end is probably the Raiders’ biggest mismatch over any team left in the bracket. The Raiders got to enable those guys to perform.

Hunter Renfrow must come up big despite everybody keying in on him. Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones must keep up their performances on key downs. We all know the chemistry they have with Derek Carr. That has been on display the past few weeks but it was absent when the Bengals came to town a few weeks ago. Desean Jackson will need to make a big play. He still has one in him.

No drops, fumbles or illegal formations from this entire receiving group. Win those matchups versus Trae Waynes and Eli Apple please. Take shots and try to get calls on them downfield too.

None of that will matter if the offensive line doesn’t step up. Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson both tore up the Raiders tackles last time these teams faced off. The Raiders offensive line is playing better now.

Cincinatti is also beefy on the inside with defensive tackles DJ Reader and Larry Ogunjobi. They are stout against the run across the front four so the Raiders and Jacobs will need to earn every yard.

On the other side, Vegas needs their defensive line to come up big. The starters got to stay fresh even if the Bengals move to a no huddle. Reserves Clelin Ferrell, Solomon Thomas and Carl Nassib will have added responsibilities with Darius Philon sidelined. One of them needs to step up and get a sack. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are the primary rushers but they run out of gas. They apply pressure but don’t always get home. Added help from the supporting cast makes their job easier and converts those pressures into lost yards.

Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Jefferson will need to help out versus the run but they also can’t be liabilities in the pass rush on long drives. This will help out all other positions on defense.

Versus the run, Denzel Perryman, Corey Littleton and K.J. Wright must step up. These veterans have playoff experience neither homegrown Raiders or Bengals players can relate to. We can’t afford to have any of them exposed. Divine Deablo saw a lot of time down the stretch due to his athleticism. One of those guys needs to make a play.

Our secondary continues scraping by without key players like Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram. Brandon Facyson and Desmond Trufant were damn near out the league. No mistakes from Dallin Leavitt or Roderic Teamer please. Both played better than expected last week but they are flawed. Nate Hobbs, Trevon Moehrig and Casey Hayward all been bright spot offseason additions for the secondary. One of them needs to make a play this week as I expect them to bend and take lumps versus the speed and size of the Bengals receiving corps. If this group can create a turnover, the Raiders have a chance. The defensive line can help by getting home without relying on help from the blitz.

Complimentary Football

In the end, the Raiders need their entire team to play their best game versus the Bengals. It’s hard to imagine them winning if they don’t come out with the same desperation and sense of urgency we saw them with in the last quarter of the season. Let’s see some Mariota again this week.

Part of me worries they will run out of gas and get merked by a team they don’t matchup well with. Yet, that is why you got veterans like Hayward, Facyson, Perryman, Jackson, Wright and Littleton. Leadership will show versus a Bengals team that is equally inexperienced in the postseason.

Otherwise, the Raiders got to stick to their identity. Run the ball, take smart shots, get after the quarterback and create some turnovers. Derek Carr has been waiting for this moment for 8 seasons. He must earn that Mamba sleeve with a clutch performance in the postseason. His stats are great and probably earned him a year or two more at the helm but it does not matter if he can not help this team get over the hump in big games. This franchise goes as far their quarterback. Winning a championship in the Silver and Black starts by proving you can win a road playoff game.

Same thing with Josh Jacobs. He is banged up and off his most inconsistent season. However, the Raiders need him to control the clock and keep the Bengals off the field. When Jacobs is effective, the play action sets up much better for Carr and company. They also need Jacobs to break a big run off and ware the defense down. This offense is missing that spark from Kenyan Drake. Maybe they can get another big run from Jalen Richard. Either way, Jacobs must show he is elite by pulling away from the defense on the biggest stage. That’s especially true if he gets going early. Jacobs got to show he can wear a team down and finish them late.

The Raiders defense was up and down all year but they got to continue to find ways to make plays and get stops. They offer a good mix of veteran and young players at each level. Somebody got to step up and make a play. It won’t surprise me if it is somebody you least expect.

Great defenses play together and don’t rely on any one player to make every play. That won’t cop Maxx or Yannick out. Big time players make big time plays in big time games, Madden would say. We need big plays from our two best defensive players to drive the defense. Ultimately, we will need a great team effort on defense to handle the Bengals explosiveness on the road. Limit the big plays, penalties and mistakes. Don’t get rattled or fall apart now.

If the Raiders can make enough plays on both sides of the ball, they can win this game. Either way, let’s just hope they come out swinging. That’s what Big Red and Coach Flores would want. Afterall, this is the first playoff game in damn near twenty years.

Before that crushing Super Bowl loss to Gruden, the Raiders were among the league’s most winning franchise. The Raiders got to represent because I know the Nation will. Vegas must remind the league what they’ve been missing without their most prolific team playing in January. Just win baby!

TOO MUCH BYE BLUES FOR MORE BAD NEWS

This is not the badass Raiders your Dad and Grandpa watched. You can’t as easily sneak out of a motel after curfew for a few extra broads and brewskis before a big game. Police don’t just escort people home after drinking and driving anymore.

The Henry Ruggs tragedy is a reminder that times are different. Forty times won’t keep you in Silver and Black.

Drinking and driving kills. It only takes one time.

There’s no doubt it is 100 percent preventable, especially when you’re a professional athlete. You add all the other details and you wonder how can Ruggs not serve time? You’ve read about the high speeds, gun and BAC. You’ve seen those videos.

It’s still crushing to watch a 22-year-old fuck up his life. Ruggs went from playing the best football of his life to looking like he may never play again. Plus, all the guilt he feels from taking a life and letting down people relying on him. This is probably the craziest situation I’ve seen in terms of a professional athlete.

I don’t blame Derek Carr, Rich Bisaccia or Mark Davis for saying they love the person and stand by him. I can’t blame them for releasing Ruggs. Same goes for fans who want to see him punished and those who feel for him. It’s a rough situation but I life was lost from a preventable accident that happens far too often. Whatever happened in that car doesn’t change the fact that Ruggs is ultimately responsible.

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More Rain

The bye week got worse when news dropped that Damon Arnette was facing a lawsuit for a hit and run acr accident en route to a meeting last year. News broke about separate incidents with a valet and instagram live. People must be held accountable. You can’t play with guns like the ’70s anymore.

This is a lot for a fanbase that just accepted a move. You add that to the Raiders track record of losing. Don’t forget we just got embarrassed by Gruden’s dated and misogynistic locker room talk. One email can mess up your entire wikipedia. A mediocre second tenure didnt help.

Football is changing. You can’t do whatever you want anymore. You can’t say whatever. It’s a new time and the Raiders are in a new state.

AND the Raiders are not winning. It’s been almost twenty years since we won a playoff game. Being a renegade is only fun when you win.

The quest for a new home and stadium finally ended. Now, it deserves a playoff squad. There is also an addition playoff team and regular-season game this year.

Moving Past the Past

We saw the Raiders collapse in the second half of the season under Gruden. They started good but flamed out at the end. They missed the playoffs narrowly. Their struggles after the bye week are well documented under Gruden. We’ve also been bad traveling east for a minute.

That said, I feel great about Bisaccia. The team went into the bye week looking good. They got some rest. Then all these distractions happened.

We went from talking about the extra element Ruggs gave the offense to discussing Desean Jackson or Odell Becham Jr. Vegas zoomed with Jackson but they aren’t expected to add receiver this week.

Still, Bisaccia steady the ship. He was empathetic, commanding and honest with the media. It seems like the team is rallying around him and a more established Derek Carr.

This Carr isn’t the same 2016 MVP candidate. This Carr has to play like he is battling for his job. This Carr has been through two mediocre seasons. He lost his head coach and best receiver. Carr and Bisaccia give the team a fighting chance through adversity.

Receiving Options

Otherwise, Las Vegas promoted receivers Dillon Stoner and Marcell Ateman. Zay Jones is the veteran who really needs to step up into a starter role. Jones holds great chemistry with Carr as they always practice together in the offseason. More pressure falls on Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow without Ruggs’ speed stretching the field every single play.

If OBJ is free, you sign him based on his age and upside. The shoulder injuries worry me but his lower body seems recovered from previous injuries. However, I’ve always wanted to see Jackson as a Raider. He is healthy and still brings speed. Jackson doesn’t have the same ability as Odell but he would fill Ruggs’ shoes better.

The Raiders could honestly use both if they’re serious about boosting the offense for a playoff push. They need Jackson at least. I’m also curious why they didn’t bring back John Brown since they also signed him for his speed.

We can’t forget the team stayed quiet at the deadline. I can’t blame them given everything with the team. They also believe in Zay Jones and their practice squad guys. Let’s see if they can get better in free agency or internally. They have done both this season already.

New York, New York

The Giants aren’t a great team but they do get teams to play down to their level. New York is 2-6 but they lost three games by one score or less. Saquon Barkley is ruled out but the Raiders know Davontae Booker can pop off. Receiver Kenny Galloday is questionable which means the Raiders secondary should dominate. Nate Hobbs and Casey Hayward are among the best rated at their positions.

Few teams need receivers like the Giants. Look at their injury report. However, the Raiders are still bad at covering tight ends. New Yorks’s Evan Engram is athletic and could torch the Raiders under the right circumstances. Engram was on the trade block too.

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I wouldn’t go as far to call it a trap game but the Giants do have enough to beat the Raiders. Leonard Williams and Dexter Jackson could give the Raiders run game some trouble. They can also be effective against the pass with James Bradburry and Adoree Jackson as a balanced corner duo. Our o-line looked improved a few weeks ago but they must maintain that growth on the road after a week off. The receivers must also step up without Ruggs taking the top off the defense.

Either way, the Raiders have a chance as long as their defensive line pressures Daniel Jones. The Raiders’ defensive line depth is their greatest asset. They face a Giants line with three players in the bottom ten at their position, per PFF. Everybody is healthy and rested again this week. The Raiders should have a full rotation.

Carr has to keep playing efficient football. The challenge will be finding ways to make big plays and strikes without Ruggs. Carr is going to need someone else to step up as his ex-factor. Look for more Foster Moreau, Kenyan Drake and Alec Ingold. Carr should spread the ball around a lot this game. He must rely on finding mismatches more without Ruggs beating his defender every play.

TMC

The point is, the Raiders know what they need to do. They must build their identity around their defensive line. Their secondary must continue making plays. Don’t screw up by giving up big chunks on penalties or blown assignments.

The offense must continue running through Carr and a strong run game. Vegas has a cast of characters who can help Carr drive the ball downfield. He can’t press too much. Lean on Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Find Hunter Renfrow on third down. Carr must develop trust with new players since Ruggs is gone.

Bisaccia should continue leading with poise and confidence. He should keep relying on his coaches as well as letting his players play.

Vegas plays the Chiefs in a game that will have meaning in a heated AFC West race. You can’t overlook the Giants but you want to be healthy and rolling into that game confident. Once again, let’ put a win between us and all this off-field mess.

RIP Tina Tintor and her puppers Max

Hello Victory Our Old Friend

Right before our season completely bottomed out, the Raiders ended their two-game skid by whooping the Broncos for their first division win. Coach Bisaccia became the first coach to win his debut since Hue Jackson.

Lessons From The Donkies

We got glimpses of the Ruggs and Carr combo we all dreamed about. Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs finally brought the 1-2 punch finally. Jacobs mixed physical running with Drake’s explosive play making.

Jacobs said the sideline had a much more professional feel minus Gruden yelling at all the players and coaches. It felt that way as the Raiders made noticeable adjustments. They never felt complacent or panicked which is how playoff teams play versus lesser division teams.

The Defense made big plays when needed. Solomon Thomas forced a crucial strip. Shout out to him for donating 8k per sack this year. Our defensive backs got back into the interception column too.

Well the Raiders sat in the driver seat by scoring on their first drive, Raiders PTSD made it feel like the game could turn at any moment. Las Vegas never really put Denver away even after the turnovers. 

Still, that is really nitpicking a road team playing a talented and banged up rival on the road. The Raiders found a way to win and that is all that matters baby. 

Deeper Meeting

Moreover, Fuck power rankings. Who cares if we fell in some made up rankings after staying in the West’s second spot? Our team showed the grit and confidence needed for a playoff push. Whether or not they get there will depend on many things including the offensive line. Rodney Hudson and Lincoln Kennedy ain’t walkin thru that door. 

At the very least, this team isn’t going to be packing it in even if they have all the reason to. Carr said he didn’t think the team could get any closer but that is exactly what happened after the Gruden of situation.

Gruden-Gate

Speaking of Gruden-gate, we heard from many Raiders and league stakeholders pushing for more emails from the WFT. Gruden is reportedly fumed that he got fired from an investigation he had nothing to do with. No shit. Mark Davis also said it was an intentional hit by the league. Probably.

The Raiders would still be controlled by some dated mediocre coach with misogynistic and racist thoughts if it weren’t for the emails. It’s also documented how the Raiders went from one of the most Black teams in the league before Gruden. The percentage instantly dropped when Gruden came to the field.  

Who cares though? The Raiders are off a great win and headed into another winnable match versus the Philadelphia Eagles. No pitty parties for coaches out the club.

Taking On Philly This Week

Some say this week’s matchup sets up a let down. The Eagles have a mobile quarterback along with an explosive tight end. Jalen Hurts is leading the team in both rushing and passing. Dallas Goedert is officially TE No. 1 with Zach Ertz shipped out. Myles Sanders can make plays. 

On defense, they have pass rushers blended with experience on all levels. Philadelphia top 10 in interceptions and passing yards allowed. However, they are in the bottom 10 for rushing yards allowed and passing touchdowns given up. That sets the Raiders up for perfect success since they want to run the ball to setup big pass plays downfield.

Keys to Beating the Eagles

Philly is ranked in the top-10 for yards per first down but they rank in the bottom over the last two games. The Eagles rely on creating manageable third downs for young quarterback Jalen Hurts. They are in the bottom ten for most passing yards in the NFL this year. If the Raiders can stop Myles Sanders from controlling the down and distance, they should be able to get after Hurts on passing downs. Hurts can also kill Vegas with his legs so the pass rushers must stay discipline on fakes and keep contain when getting up field. Getting Quinton Jefferson back should also help pressure Hurts and stop the run. Jefferson’s get-off is missed as he disrupts both the run and pass. It would also be great if the Raiders can force an interception again like last week.

Offensively, the Raiders must exert their will again. Vegas needs another fast start like last week. Forget the last time they looked lethargic at home versus the Bears as all the Gruden stuff loomed in the shadows. Let’s put that behind us by starting fast and getting all the weapons involved. This team is hard to beat when Ruggs is getting targets downfield and Bryan Edwards is making catches in the deeper intermediate route. Carr can find Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow anytime because of their chemistry. However, Ruggs and Edwards give them the big play threat that makes it hard to lock in on Carr’s favorite targets.

Bottom Line

Overall, it won’t matter what the offense wants to do if they can’t get blocking up front. The O-line played better versus the Broncos but they could only go up from where they played versus the Bears. Hopefully, this group can continue improving as they get more reps together. They’ll face real tests with Fletcher Cox and company in town. Philadelphia leaves much to be desired versus the run so this is a chance for the young offensive line to gain some confidence running the ball.

Vegas played with a chip on their shoulder for the first time in a bit. They looked mad and angry. However, they kept it balanced by rolling through the good and the bad. Our Raiders looked like they had been there before even when it seemed like they were going to let Denver back into the game. If the Raiders can maintain the physicality and the professional focus forward, there is no reason why they can not make the playoffs. That starts with handling business versus a beatable Philly team.

Otherwise, a loss won’t be the end of the world headed into a bye week. The Bye Week is the breathe of fresh air we all need. Yet, sitting at 5-2 in first place is much better than tied for second at 4-3. Hopefully, the game won’t be too crazy with Philly fans, although they travel well and Vegas is a transit town.

Either way, the Raiders got to find a way to put good to solid teams away if they really want to legitimize themselves as contenders. For now, I think we’ll all just take 2-0 in the post-Gruden era.