Now is not the time to wallow in the past. In week 3 the Raiders were on the wrong end of a thorough beat down by the Washington Redskins and it wasn’t even close. QB Derek Carr threw an interception on his first pass and things didn’t get much better after that. The offensive line had zero push in the run game and gave Carr no time to throw most of the night. When Carr did have enough time and actually hit his target, receivers were dropping balls. The defense wasn’t much better, giving up numerous big plays and too many yards in chunks, the low light came in the 3rd quarter when the team had a breath of life after scoring on a shortened field thanks to a muffed punt being recovered. The defense had a chance to get the ball back, it was 3rd down and 19 when they preceded to give up a 74 yard screen pass to Redskins running back Chris Thompson. That was the back breaker. Final score Washington 27 Oakland 10.
The important thing now is to put that game in the rearview mirror and don’t look back because this Sunday’s divisional matchup in Denver will a go a long way in showing the league, and proving to themselves, the Raiders are for real.
Heading into the game, Vegas has Oakland pegged as a 3 point underdog and for good reason. They are on the back end of consecutive road games and have played 3 of the first 4 games away from The Coliseum. Although they were upset last week by Buffalo, Denver (2-1) will provide a tough challenge as their defense is looking more like the top ranked unit of 2016 that won a Super bowl, while the running game is rolling. Their run game is averaging 143 yards a game good for 3rd in the league.
3 Players to Watch
Amari Cooper– The AC half of AC/DC really needs to step up his game. After 3 games Amari Cooper has only 10 catches for 101 yards and just a single trip to the end zone. To add to that Amari has once again developed a case of the droppsies as he leads the league in drops with 6. The next highest player has 3. Michael Crabtree who suffered a chest injury in Washington is listed as doubtful and is a game time decision after missing Friday’s practice. If Crabtree isn’t able to suit up, it’s going to add to the pressure on Cooper to re-find his hands and be a reliable target for Carr, especially in the red zone.
Khalil Mack– As mentioned earlier the defense had a rough go last week in Washington. They were smacked around and possibly had their confidence shaken, it is at this time they will be looking to their leader for inspiration. Reigning defensive player of the year, Khalil Mack, has had a strong start to the season and was possibly the only bright light in the Washington debacle, racking up 9 tackles and a sack, his second in as many games. In Denver KMack will meet a familiar foe in former Raider Menelik Watson, who left for mile high after 4 seasons in Oakland. Watson has struggled early this season giving up 6 sacks already. If the Broncos don’t give Watson help with an extra blocker or two, Mack may have a repeat of his 5 sack performance in Denver two years ago where he virtually won the game single handedly.
Derek Carr– You might say I picked the easy route choosing Derek Carr as a player to watch. He plays the most important position on the field and all, but it will be interesting to see how Carr bounces back from one of the worst statistical performances of his career and certainly the worst since his rookie year. Carr doesn’t exactly have an easy rebound game as he will be taking on Denver’s vaunted “No Fly Zone” secondary, which is currently ranked tops in the league. All great quarterbacks have bad games here and there, it’s how they respond to the adversity that helps make them special. Is Carr ready to join elite status? This Sunday’s performance can help towards answering that question.
In as an important of a game as you can have in week 4. The loser of this game will go down to 2-2, for no better than 3rd place in the AFC West, the toughest division in football, so both teams will be playing extra hard in this one. Oakland will win the war in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The OLine is going to make some huge holes for Marshawn Lynch to pound through, which will set up Carr for some sweet play-action. Look for Jared Cook to have a big day up the middle. Conversely Mario Edwards Jr., Eddie Vanderdoes, Justin “Jelly” Ellis, and Khalil Mack are going to make it a long day for Broncos QB Trevor Siemian.
Final score Oakland 23 Denver 21.