Greetings, Raider fans! It is I, the big cheese, the big kahuna, the grand poobah, and the major malfunction. I come to you today having accurately predicted yet another Raiders loss, although the game had me on pins and needles at the end. I was really hoping to be wrong, that the Raiders would pull this one out in exciting fashion, right up until the point where Derek Carr threw the ball to the other team in an effort to join the Rex Grossman Screw It I'm Going Deep Club.
Once again I have made contact with the Great Beyond, who is benevolent in his ways and delivers to us another message regarding the fate of the Raiders.
"Last week was close! Closer than I thought. Kudos to the Raiders for showing up to play. They actually came out of the locker room this time, unlike the Miami game. This week they take on a team every bit as good as San Diego, the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals are a team that wants to be the Raiders. They used to have a quarterback nicknamed "The Snake" They hired Joe Bugel as their head coach once. They currently employ Tommy Kelly, Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer and Matt Shaughnessy.
The Cardinals have until quite recently been one of the most inept and poorly run frsnchises in football. In the early nineties, they hired a doddering Buddy Ryan as their head coach, ten years after his last ounce of effectivness, and sold it to their fans on giant billboards as 'BuddyBall'. As if this were a thing, much less a thing about which to get excited. BuddyBall's chief issue was the total lack of talent on the team due to ownership being unwilling to spend any money on good players. The Cardinals franchise's last good players prior to Jake Plummer's advent with the team were Dan Dierdorf and Jackie Smith.
However, as of late they have been quite good. They lost a heartbreaker Super Bowl to the Steelers and have been at least decent for the better part of a decade. They really should have made the playoffs last year and they probably will this year since San Francisco doesn't seem quite as good as usual. It seems that every week the Raiders play a playoff contender. It's good for player development and bad for the old win-loss record.
The Cardinals seem to have found a quality head coach in Bruce Arians, which is not something I would have guessed considering how much the Steelers offense had fallen off in his last few years there. However, given how bad they are currently, maybe Arians was not the problem at all. Todd Bowles is their defensive coordinator and he is one of the best, definitely in line for a head coaching gig sooner than later. The Raiders interviewed him last time they had an opening, but he was passed over in favor of Dennis Allen. That may have been an error.
Not only does Arizona have a stifling defense that will be a real test for Derek Carr, but they also have two excellent wideouts in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. While Larry is a shell of his former self, Floyd is becoming one of the premier pass-catchers in the NFL.
Luckily for Oakland, Carson Palmer is coming off injury and is nowhere close to the level of Philip Rivers at this point in his career. If the Raiders can successfully rush him they will have the advantage, unlike with Rivers where he can escape the pocket and throw well on the run despite middling athleticism. Palmer is more or less a sculptor's rendition of Kurt Warner.
This will be a hard-fought game. The Cardinals aren't really built to blow other teams out, they want to keep the score low and win with defense and the occasional deep throw. Oakland's safeties must be on their game. That means you, Usama Young.
In the end, while the Raiders will play well I don't see them on Arizona's level yet. Palmer will probably complete one or two deep shots too many while Carr may complete one or two too few.
Cardinals win, 34-24.