Raiders begin second half push against Texans following bye week in Mexico City

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP photo: Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) raises arm in celebration after running back Latavius Murray’s touchdown run in the second half against the Denver Broncos on Nov 6th

OAKLAND, Calif — After a week off, the Raiders gear up for a tough second half with a trip down to Mexico City for a “home” game against the Houston Texans on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 11 action at Estadio Azteca.

Oakland is riding a three-game winning streak and are tied with New England and Kansas City for the best record in the AFC at 7-2.

Kansas City leads Oakland by a half-game and Denver (7-3) by one game in the jam-packed AFC West.

The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 26-10 in Oakland in Week 6.

Derek Carr is having an MVP-type of season in Year 3, throwing for 2,505 yards, 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Carr is leading a Raider offense that ranks sixth in the league in passing yards per game, averaging 278.3 yards.

The passing game maybe engineered by Carr, but it is driven by the wide receiver tandem of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.

While Cooper leads Oakland in catches (58) and receiving yards (843) to go along with two touchdowns, Crabtree has been Carr’s go-to guy, leading the team with six touchdown catches on 49 catches for 596 receiving yards.

Oakland boasts one of the game better offensive lines, which has only surrendered a league-low 11 sacks to opposing defenses.

The Raiders could have their hands full against a Texans team that ranks fourth overall in defense this season allowing just 317.4 yards of total offense per game, while playing the majority of the season without defensive end J.J. Watt who is out for the season with a back injury.

Linebacker Benardrick McKinney racked up seven tackles to increase his team-leading 81 for the season on Sunday. Fellow linebacker Whitney Mercilus leads Houston with 4.5 sacks.

Houston (6-3) finally won on the road last week, upending the Jaguars 24-21 in Jacksonville Sunday. The Texans lead the AFC South and remain undefeated (3-0) following their fifth straight win over the Jaguars.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler threw two touchdowns (despite throwing for just 99 yards), and cornerback Kareem Jackson intercepted a Blake Bortles’ pass intended for wide receiver Allen Hurns 42 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter on Jacksonville’s fifth play from scrimmage.

Running back Lamar Miller has rushed for 720 yards and three touchdowns in his first season in Houston following four years in Miami.

Miller rumbled for 83 yards on 15 carries Sunday against Jacksonville.

Despite a down season statistically, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is still Houston’s dynamic play-maker.

After amassing recording six 100-yard receiving games that led to Hopkins’ breakout 2015 season in which he hauled in 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns, Hopkins has just one 100-yard receiving game in 2016.

Hopkins leads Houston with 45 catches for 482 yards, and is tied with tight end C.J. Fierdorowicz for the team lead with three receiving touchdowns.