“Oakland wants to run the clock down here…they’re going to go hurry up though.”
-Something Chris Simms actually said while calling Raiders v. Browns
KYLE LONG V. KHALIL MACK
If you’re looking for a single reason to be excited for Bears v. Raiders, this is it. Mack rarely moves off left side of the defensive line (if at all) and that means a showdown between two of the best young players in the sport for sixty minutes. Mack has the advantage of being a pass rusher for the last half decade while Long has been a tackle since Labor Day. If Long consistently wins this battle it will reaffirm the belief of many that he’s destined to be one of the best tackles in the sport for years to come.
WHAT THE RAIDERS LIKE TO DO IS…
- Feed Amari Cooper and feed him a lot. It is rare to see a young wide receiver as polished and versatile as the young man from Alabama. Derek Carr is just as comfortable throwing him a quick fade on first-and-ten from his own 20 as he is throwing him a slant on third-and-goal at the one with the clocking winding down on a victory. Cooper embarrassed Joe Haden in Cleveland and the Bears don’t have a defensive back anywhere near Haden’s league.
- Play with balance. Even when the Raiders were nursing a substantial lead against the Browns they managed to mix in the pass with some effectiveness. After the Browns got within 7 of them late in the fourth quarter Sunday, here was their drive (the fumbled punt by Cleveland cost them the gain):
- Run the power game with Latavius Murray. Murray reminds me an awful lot of Frank Gore. He’s not only big and strong but he’s got real explosiveness once he get through the initial hole. He’s hell for any secondary to deal with in the open field.
- Sit their safeties back and make opponents throw underneath. One reason tight ends have had such success against the Raiders (see Bears of intrigue) is that neither Charles Woodson nor Nate Allen are capable of covering anyone. Both are far more comfortable 15-20 yards off the line of scrimmage, playing a center field role. One would imagine this approach will change against James Clausen as giving Clausen any easy throws is a schematic mistake. No throws are easy for Clausen if there’s a defender within five yards. (If Cutler plays, expect Woodson to sit deep and rely upon his proven track record of reading Cutty’s eyes.)
THE GAME POEM
Raid, raid, pillage and plunder!
…young and hungry…
Raid, pillage, pillage, raid!
…a western horde…
Plunder, pillage, raid!
…ascending to the top of the hill…
Raid. Pillage. Plunder.
IRISH VIDEO OF THE WEEK
A magical evening in Kinsale, Co. Cork. The best tin whistle player I’ve ever heard…and I’ve heard a bunch.
THREE BEARS OF INTRIGUE
- Browns tackling at the back end of their secondary was responsible for massive gains in the Oakland run and passing attack a week ago. One thing both Antrel Rolle & Adrian Amos can do: wrap players up and bring them to the ground. They need to be at their fundamental best Sunday.
- Oakland has been manhandled by tight ends each of their first three games and have yet to face a tight end with the explosiveness of Martellus Bennett. Of course Bennett will be handcuffed by inadequate quarterback play if James Clausen plays so to expect anything beyond pedestrian production is unfair. (If Cutler plays, massive performance coming from Bennett if the two ever get on the same page.)
- Jay Ratliff. The middle of the Raiders offensive line, where J’Marcus Webb lives, is vulnerable to any kind of penetration. If Ratliff is able to return to any kind of form, he could dominate.
STAT OF THE WEEK
I won’t give you the entire breakdown of these kickoff return stats against the Bears. I will tell you they are on pace to be the worst kickoff coverage team in the history of the NFL by a significant margin.
WATCH OUT FOR TAIWAN JONES…
…because he is the Raiders kick returner. But he’s not just a warm body. He’s been explosive in the early part of the season, returning four kickoffs for an average of 30.3 yards, ranking him fifth in the league. The impressive part of that statistic is his longest return has only been 35 yards, meaning the number hasn’t been skewed by a lengthy touchdown. He’s consistently good and going against the worst kickoff coverage in the league.
(The video below is an example of a Google search gone horribly awry.)
If Jay Cutler plays….
Bears 27, Raiders 14
If one must factor in James Clausen, Bears win but the dreadful quarterback makes the game far closer than it needs to be.
Bears 20, Raiders 17