Looking Ahead To The Oakland Raiders


The Green Bay Packers look to take a step closer to returning to the playoffs when they visit the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Coming off the heels of a miraculous win, the Green Bay Packers followed that up by jostling around the playcalling responsibilities, leaning heavily on the run game, and making short work of the Cowboys in a 28-7 victory.

While not everything was as pretty as you’d like it to be, the Packers still showed that their offense can function at a fairly good pace, and they came out of the game looking more like the 6-0 team that started the year than the team that lost 4 out of 5.

Up next for Green Bay is a trip out West, where they will be traveling into the Black Hole with a matchup against the Oakland Raiders. While the Cowboys were technically playing for the playoffs last week, the Raiders are much more alive in the AFC playoff race after a victory over the Broncos last week, though a loss could end things for them this year.

The Packers are still playing for plenty as well, with a chance at a bye week not entirely out of reach yet.

Let’s take a look at tomorrows game.

Who Are They?

The Oakland Raiders (6-7) come into this game with an outside chance of making it into the playoffs this year. While they most likely won’t get in, they would need to win out the rest of the year and finish 9-7 in order to even have a shot. Even finishing 8-8 or 7-9 would be a huge improvement for a team that has been notoriously bad for so long. The reason for the turn around?

That would be the stunning play of young quarterback Derek Carr and a wide receiver group consisting of rookie star Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Defensively, the Raiders are led by soon-to-be All-Pro Khalil Mack, who recorded five sacks last week. Despite the stellar play of Mack and the always solid talents of Charles Woodson, the Raiders defense still isn’t all that great. They are tied for 22nd in points allowed, giving up nearly 25 points a game, and their rushing and passing stats don’t fare any better (11th and 28th, respectively).

What to watch for: 

  • Reunions: Not only will James Jones be playing the team that cut him last year for the first time since, but safety Charles Woodson will also be seeing the Packers for the first time since they voided the last two years of his contract in 2012. At the time, he was due to make $18 million, and since the NFL is all about money, it didn’t make sense for Green Bay to keep him. Since then, however, Woodson has only elongated his Hall of Fame resume and continued to play to his high standards. It’ll certainly be fun to watch him match up against his former teammates.
  • Offensive Tempo: During last weeks victory, the Packers ran almost 90 plays, thanks in part to keeping up a heavy pace of running the ball. If they want to win this week, it will have to be a similar game plan. Currently, there is rain in the forecast for Sunday, so I would expect Coach McCarthy to continue to feed the duo of Lacy/Starks, while also building off the solid showing from the receivers last week. After weeks of a stagnant offense, there were signs of life last week, and the team desperately needs to build on that in order to make it deep into the playoffs.
  • Cornerback Play: As it stands, cornerback Sam Shields continues to be in the NFL’s concussion protocol following a hit to the head last week. Should he not be able to play (and it’s looking like that), then the task of stopping Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will fall to rookie defensive backs Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall. Rollins and Randall have done well for most of the year (Randall is currently rated as the 3rd best rookie CB, per PFF), and while they both have lots to learn and need to grow in many areas, it’s encouraging to see the pair taking the responsibility in stride so early in their careers.

Keys to Victory: 

For all intents and purposes, this game could line to be a trap game for the Packers. The Raiders are playing very well as of late and desperate to try and get into the playoffs. While the Packers are coming off of a solid victory, it’s tough for any team to travel the West Coast to play a game.

At the end of the day, this game will come down to two things: how well the Packers cornerbacks play against Oaklands duo of wideouts, and how well Eddie Lacy and James Starks perform.

Just like last week, I expect Mike McCarthy to feature Lacy/Starks heavily in the gameplan, with Lacy probably getting another 20+ carries. If Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins can handle the task of stifling two talented receivers, the Packers can control the pace of this game, which is something I think they’ll do.

It might not be the prettiest win, but the Packers will run their streak to three with a huge game at Arizona looming.

Prediction: Green Bay 28, Oakland 25