The Oakland Raiders’ season was up against the ropes heading into last Thursday’s game against the Chiefs but they gave it new life with their big 31-30 win against the division leaders.
But their work isn’t done yet.
Head coach Jack Del Rio and his Raiders must keep the momentum going has they travel east to take on the Buffalo Bills.
Under the new leadership of head coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are currently second place in the AFC East with a record of 4-2, but an undefeated 3-0 at home after last week’s close win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Much of the Bills’ success has come from their opportunistic defense led by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Frazier took over after spending last year as the Baltimore Ravens secondary coach and now features a defense that ranks fourth in the league in points, allowing just 16.8. The Bills defense also leads the league in turnover ratio with a plus-10 ratio. Leading the way for the secondary is safety Micah Hyde, who is tied for the league lead with four interceptions.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned to the field last week and had a stellar game, throwing for 417 yards and three touchdowns. Since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback, the Raiders have found success when Carr has a a good game. Carr needs to be careful against the Bills’ opportunistic defense to not give them extra chances on offense.
Todd Downing will have to call his first game without veteran running back Marshawn Lynch who is suspended for the game after making contact with a referee during last Thursday’s matchup. The Raiders will turn to second-year running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, both of which were featured heavily last year and have remained active this year.
Richard and Washington will have a tough matchup going up against a defense that is giving up just 84.6 rushing yards per game, seventh in the league. The Raiders also signed undrafted free agent Elijah Hood for depth with Lynch out.
On offense, the Bills feature versatile quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is a threat both through the air and on the ground, having thrown for 1,178 yards while also rushing for 174 yards, third most amongst quarterbacks in the league. Ken Norton, Jr. must find a way to keep an eye on the quarterback and make sure he doesn’t escape the pocket and get free in the secondary.
Much of the Bills passing game goes through the tight ends and running backs. Tight end Charles Clay leads the team with 258 receiving yards, while running back LeSean McCoy leads the team with 32 receptions for 220 yards.
The veteran McCoy got off to a slow start but is coming off a breakout game last week where he racked up 122 total yards from scrimmage. McCoy leads the team with 370 yards on 110 carries and two touchdowns. The Raiders did a good job containing the Chiefs star running back Kareem Hunt, but now they must find a way to slow down one of the league’s top veteran running backs.
Del Rio and the Raiders will stay on the East Coast after the game, heading to Sarasota, Fl. before taking on the Miami Dolphins in Miami next week.