The Oakland Raiders travel to Florida this weekend to take on the Miami Dolphins in a battle of rebuilding teams. The Raiders will be looking to rebound from a very disappointing loss versus the San Diego Chargers. Dennis Allen, the Raiders new head coach, talked all off-season about changing the culture of the Silver and Black. It’s only one game but the same things that have haunted the Raiders for decades were still very evident. There were penalties, mental mistakes and everything else fans are used to when it comes to the Raiders. If they are going to win games this season, then the Raiders have to clean up all of that stuff.
The Raiders have a great player in running back, Darren McFadden but they must get other people involved if the offense is going to be effective. By the middle of the second quarter in Monday night’s loss everyone knew where the ball was going, including the Chargers. It was either a running play with McFadden or a dump off to the running back. The Raiders must stretch the field and that starts with quarterback, Carson Palmer. Palmer must find a way to get the ball down field versus the Dolphins, and make some big plays. The Dolphins gave up a number of explosive plays in their opener versus the Houston Texans, so there are plays to be made.
The Raiders are changing their offense to a more ball control type attack, and that’s fine but that doesn’t mean you never throw the ball deep. If they are going to win in Miami on Sunday, which is a winnable game, the Raiders have to find a way to get their receivers involved in the game. Darrius Heyward-Bey is not a household name but he’s a solid receiver who can get deep as he did often in 2011. Denarius Moore did not play in the opener but should play in the game versus the Dolphins and that will certainly help the passing game. The passing game has to start with Palmer, though. He has now been with the Raiders long enough and needs to produce more than he has to this point. For the Raiders to beat the Dolphins or anyone else for that matter, Palmer has to step and be the guy that the Raiders traded the farm for.
Defensively, the Raiders turned in a pretty solid performance versus the Chargers and should have another solid effort facing a bad Dolphin’s offense. The pass rush of the Raiders should be able to get to Dolphins rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Defensive linemen Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston should have a big day versus a Dolphins offensive line that really struggled in Houston last Sunday. The Dolphins will attempt to establish the running game with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas to protect their young quarterback, so the Raiders goal will be to force them into passing situations. In addition to the inexperience of Tannehill, the Dolphins are very weak at the wide receiver position and will struggle all year to make plays in the passing game. In order for the Raiders to win this game, the defense has to help its struggling offense by forcing some turnovers and giving Palmer a short field to work with.
Maybe the most important are for the Raiders in this game is special teams, where they were terrible on Monday night. Most, if not all of that, had to do with an injury to their long snapper. The backup could not get the ball back to punter, Shane Lechler to save his life and that lead directly to nine points for the Chargers. It’s fairly safe to assume that it will be corrected this week and if it is, then the Raiders should have an advantage on special teams.
A point that cannot be ignored is this, in recent seasons the Raiders have been terrible when they travel back east for an early game and that’s what they face this weekend. They don’t just lose these games, they usually get blown out. From a talent perspective, the Raiders should probably win this game but I just don’t see it. It’s hard to believe that all of those mistakes from last week will be corrected in just six days, and until they win an early game in the Eastern Time zone I just can’t pick them. Prediction- Dolphins-16 Raiders-13.
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