The staff here at Silver & Black Pride are analyzing each of the Raiders matchups for the 2018 season. Next in the series is the September 23rd face-off against the Miami Dolphins, when the Raiders will take to the road for a tough battle in South Beach.
The Dolphins 2017 season was over before it even began after quarterback Ryan Tannehill re-injured his knee in an August practice and was forced to get surgery on a torn ACL. The team would end up finishing third in the AFC East with a mediocre 6-10 record. With Tannehill healthy heading into the 2018 season, the Dolphins are looking to turn around their fortunes.
Key Departures: Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, Jay Ajayi, Julius Thomas
Key Additions: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Mike Gesicki, Danny Amendola, Frank Gore, Robert Quinn Josh Sitton, Albert Wilson
2018 NFL Network Power Rankings: #30
2017: 25th in total offense, 28th in points per game with 17.6
2017: 16th in total defense, 28th in points per game with 24.6
Reshad Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick VS. Derek Carr
Coming off his second trip to the Pro Bowl, Jones will team up with first round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick to form one of the better safety duos in the NFL. Both players are very scheme versatile and can matchup with elite tight ends and receivers. Carr is adept at looking off safeties with his eyes and scheming around them, so look for him to avoid throwing the ball targeting Jones and Fitzpatrick on Sunday.
Raiders pass rush VS Ryan Tannehill
Remember how I mentioned Tannehill is recovering from a torn ACL? Well the matchup against the Raiders takes place during the third week of the season, so Tannehill will likely be gaining his confidence back. If Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, and the rest of Oakland’s pass rushers can consistently bring Tannehill to the ground, that confidence in his knee could shatter quickly forcing Tannehill to release the football earlier than he would like to.
Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore VS Raiders linebackers
After Jay Ajayi was traded to the Eagles, Drake stepped into the starting role and totaled 883 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in just six games. Gore was added in free agency, and has rushed for at least 900 yards each of the past seven seasons.
Meanwhile, the Raiders have new faces at linebacker after signing veterans Tahir Whitehead and Derrick Johnson in free agency. Emmanuel Lamur is expected to battle Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow for the third starting spot. If the Raiders linebacking corps can contain Drake and Gore, the Dolphins could be in for a long day.
On paper, the Dolphins should be one of the easier opponents on the Raiders 2018 schedule. But no game is a guarantee in the NFL and the Silver & Black have historically struggled on the East Coast. Expect this game to be closer than the experts project, with the Raiders pulling out a narrow victory.