The Raiders and Redskins will be playing for the 13th time this weekend and both teams could use a win to give them some momentum. Oakland is coming off a 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos on Monday night and Washington lost 27-20 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Washington is off to an 0-3 start (their worst start in 12 years) due to a porous defense that has been just abysmal through their first 3 games. The Hogs started slow last season at 3-6 before reeling off seven straight wins to win the NFC East and make the postseason. Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett’s defense has allowed 155 rushing yards per game (tied for 30th), 333 passing yards (31st in the League), and 32.7 points per game (31st). If this continues he will definitely be on the hot seat, especially after their mediocre play last season.
It will be up to Oakland to take advantage of the defense and score points and Darren McFadden will play a key role in that. McFadden struggled last week against a good Broncos run defense when he ran the ball 12 times for just 9 yards and a 1 yard TD. However, Washington’s defense doesn’t pose the same problem as the Denver run defense, they allow 4.8 yards per carry (28th). McFadden should be able to find some holes in that swiss cheese-like run defense.
Head coach Dennis Allen admitted they need to be able to run the ball in order to have a chance.
“We have to block,” he told Raiders.com. “We have to create some running seams and give our backs an opportunity to run the football. We’ll have a plan to do some different things to hopefully create some running seams for the backs, but really it comes down to winning the line of scrimmage, and if we win the line of scrimmage we’ll be able to run the ball effectively.”
The Redskins better be prepared for a heavy dose of McFadden. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor sustained a concussion late in the Denver game and left, never returning. He was cleared to participate in practice on Thursday in non contact drills, but he is not going to play. This opens the door for veteran Matt Flynn, he will start and completed 1 of 2 passes for 19 yards against the Broncos. Flynn will need time to throw, something he didn’t get in the preseason. Seemingly every time he fell back to pass, the offensive line would collapse and Flynn would be a sitting duck for the opposing pass rush.
In 2 career starts, Flynn has completed 55 of 81 passes (67.9%) for 731 yards, 9 TD’s and 2 interceptions. Flynn can be accurate, but again…he needs to time to be able to find the open receiver and he should have those with WR’s Denarius Moore (6 catches for 124 yards, including a 73 yard TD), rookie Brice Butler (3 catches for 54 yards) and 2nd year Rod Streater (11 catches, 14ypc this season). Rookie tight end Mychael Rivera has shown flashes that he could develop into an NFL quality player.
Some good news for Flynn is Stefen Wisniewski returns to the starting lineup after missing all 3 games and will replace Tony Bergstrom at center. He should help protect Flynn a little more than Bergstrom who is really a tackle playing out of position.
The Washington secondary has been suspect so far this season. Aaron Rodgers threw for 480 yards and 4 TD’s and Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards and 2TD’s. The Redskins pass defense has allowed 8 passing TD’s and managed just 1 INT so Flynn (or Pryor) should be able to have some success throwing the ball.
Robert Griffin III spearheads a potent offensive passing attack, despite not being 100% healthy after his ACL injury last year. He has completed 63.3% of his passes for 307ypg, 5 TD’s and 4 INT’s. He threw 5 INT’s all of last season so his decision making needs to get better as well. He’s averaging 46.3 passes a game, very high for a team that has a quality running game. But, they have been digging themselves an early hole with the defense allowing the opponents to score virtually at will.
Griffin attempted 50 passes last weekend in recording his 3rd straight 300 yard game, but he failed to throw a TD pass. He has thrown the ball 139 times (as opposed to just 57 rushes as a team) because they have been trailing for most of all 3 games they have played this season.
But, make no mistake…the Redskins can run the ball also. They are averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 100.7 ypg on just 19 carries a game. Alfred Morris is averaging 5.6ypc and 75ypg, but he hasn’t been able to get the number of carries he’d like. Washington needs to get more balance on offense so they don’t have to leave Griffin open to other teams sitting back and blitzing.
Prediction: Raiders win, 24-17
–The Raiders lead the all time series, 8-4 (7-4 in the regular season), but the Redskins have won 2 of the last 3 games.
-Washington TE Fred Davis (with a high ankle sprain) and Jordan Reed (quad contusion) are both questionable as is kicker Kai Forbath (groin injury), LB Ryan Kerrigan and safety Brandon Meriweather are both probable.
-Defensive end Jason Hunter and guard Lucas Nix are both questionable, CB Tracy Porter (concussion) and LB Sio Moore (concussion) are both probable, strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) and tackle Menelik Watson (knee) are both out.
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