To say the Raiders need a bounce-back this Sunday is an understatement, just as it would be to say this game (their first divisional matchup of the season) is important. Then again, this column could use a bounce-back as well after going just 2/6 last week.
But alas, it’s already almost Sunday and with a trip to Mile High nearly here, it’s time for everyone to bounce back on Sunday.
Through the first two weeks, it seemed as if 2014-15 version of Anderson had returned. Against the Chargers and Cowboys (both home games), Anderson ran for 199 yards (4.42 YPC) with both a rushing and a receiving touchdown to his name. Last week, however, in his first road game of the season, Anderson came crashing down — gaining just 36 yards on eight carries.
So far this season, the Raiders are allowing 112 yards per game on the ground — not to mention what Chris Thompson did in the passing game. While the Raiders continue to try and find some solutions at linebacker and some consistency on the defensive line, Anderson looks poised to have another big game on Sunday.
While Denver boasts one of the best defensive backfields in the league — a group that will be tasked with shutting down Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree (which, unfortunately, they have done with some success in recent matchups) — opposing tight ends have managed to hurt them so far this season. In three games, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Charles Clay have combined for 18 catches, 153 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Enter Cook. In three games this season, Cook has been the most consistent receiving threat by far. He’s the only player with 4+ catches in all three games and the only player with 20+ receiving yards in all three games.
My sleeper of the week is going to be Washington — for the simple reasons that his trajectory this season is tilted ‘up’ and someone random is going to need to step up this week for Oakland to move the ball on offense.
Last week, Washington tied Marshawn Lynch with 16 offensive snaps (31%) — 10 more than Jalen Richard saw. Obviously Lynch would see more of the field if the game remains close, but it seems clear that Washington may have nudged ahead of Richard as the backup running back. Last week, Washington saw 6 passes come his way (tied for most on the team) and he caught 5 of them (most on the team).
Oakland Offensive Line
Whether they were distracted by their national anthem protest or not, this unit was dreadful last week — and it doesn’t get any easier on Sunday with Von Miller and Co. That said, this is a prideful group that should pick themselves up and come ready to re-assert themselves as one of the best units in the league.
It was a slow night on Sunday for Beast Mode, and it seems like this Sunday might be no different. Thus far, the Broncos are allowing just 59 yards per game — and that’s against the likes of Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliot and LeSean McCoy. For the Raiders to be successful offensively, they’ll need something from Lynch, but I wonder if they opt more for the versatility of a guy like Washington that can give them more in the passing game as the game moves on.
Thomas is undoubtedly one of the better receivers in football, but for whatever reason that success didn’t translate in games against Oakland last season. While he’s averaging almost 6 grabs and 80 yards per game this season, he put up just 9 catches and 103 yards in two games against the Raiders last year.
The likely reason for this is the matchup problems he finds against Oakland (big corners) that he may not see elsewhere in the league.
The moral of the story here is that he’s just not that good. Sure, he threw for 4 touchdowns against Dallas, but on the season he’s averaging under 240 yards per game with 6 TD and 4 INT. The explanation you’ll get is that he’s a game manager who relies on the defense and the run game — which is true — but my guess is that the Raiders do everything they can to force Siemian to beat them.
In Week 9 last year, Siemian torched the Raiders (283 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) and the Raiders won. In Week 17, Siemian threw for just 206 yards (2 TD, 1 INT) and the Broncos won. Let the man sling it on Sunday and the Raiders are in good shape — mostly because he’s just not that good.