Oakland Raiders podcast with Joe Hawkes Beamon: Conley to face old teammates this Sunday; Can Edebali get to the quarterbacks for Raiders?

Photo credit: reviewjournal.com

On the podcast with Joe Hawkes:

#1 Former Oakland Raider Gareon Conley will be facing his former team this Sunday as Gareon was dealt to the Houston Texans on Monday. What will it mean for Conley to face his old teammates this Sunday?

#2 Conley represents the third first round draft pick to be dealt by the Raiders in the last 14 months, which included former Raiders Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Will Conley be a void much like Mack and Cooper were?

#3 The Raiders filled Conley’s spot with defensive end Kasim Edebali. Edebali (30) has eight sacks and 54 tackles with the New Orleans Saints between 2014-2016. In 2017, he had played the season without a sack and has played for the Broncos, Lions, Rams, Saints and Bengals during that time. Can he keep a roster spot with the Raiders?

#4 Taking a look at last week’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, there was little doubt the Raiders defense were almost nonexistent against Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers who had plenty of time to throw the football last Sunday.

#5 The Raiders complete their long six weeks and five games away from Oakland this Sunday against the Texans in Houston. Taking a look at the trip, how did the Raiders fare considering the grueling trip, which included a stop in London?

Catch the Oakland Raiders podcast each Friday with Joe Hawkes at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Raiders fly to London for home game against the Bears

Photo credit: bleacherreport.com

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

The Oakland Raiders, fresh off an impressive win in Indianapolis in Week 4, are off to London where they will host (that’s right, host) the Chicago Bears in Week 5 for the NFL’s first-ever matchup in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Sunday’s game will mark the second-straight year that the Raiders have played in London, and the fifth time in six years playing an international game.

Kickoff for this game is at 10:00 a.m. PT this Sunday, Oct. 6.

The all-time series is tied at seven wins apiece, but the Bears have won the previous matchup between the two teams, 22-20, back in 2015 at Soldier Field.

Last week, the Raiders dispatched the Colts, 31-24, behind a fast start by the offense who jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was terrific, leading Oakland to touchdowns on three of their first four drives of the game.

“We finished our drives, we converted on third downs, we were efficient running the football. Everyone did their job,” Carr said after the win that pulled Oakland to 2-2 on the season. When everyone does their job, we can score points.

Carr was 21 of 31 with 189 yards and two TDs. On the game’s opening drive Carr was sharp, completing 6 of 6 passes for 53 yards and an 18-yard TD to tight end Foster Moreau to give Oakland an early 7-0 lead.

Oakland’s second offensive series of the game ended after wide receiver Trevor Davis ran past the Colts’ defense on the left side for a TD that propelled the Raiders to a 14-0 lead before fans at Lucas Oil Stadium sat down.

Wide receiver Tyrell Williams caught a touchdown for the fourth-straight game this season, a 19-yarder from Carr that gave the Raiders a 21-7 lead.

Oakland’s defense preserved the win late in the fourth quarter.

With the Raiders clinging to a 24-17 lead, safety Erik Harris stepped in front of a Jacoby Brissett pass and returned it for a 30-yard pick-six that gave Oakland a 31-17 lead shortly before the two minute warning.

Harris’ interception was the first takeaway by the Raiders this season.

Chicago (3-1) is coming off a 16-6 victory over their NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings at Solider Field in Week 4.

After starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was knocked out of the game on the first possession with a left shoulder injury, backup Chase Daniels would stabilize the Bears’ offense over the Vikings’ defense.

Daniels threw for 195 yards and a touchdown while completing 22 of 30 passes. With Trubisky most likely out for Sunday’s game, expect Daniels to get the start against the Silver and Black.

But the real calling card for Chicago has been its defense, which has made life difficult for opposing teams this season.

Through four games, Chicago is the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL, surrendering just 290.8 yards per game, but rank second in total points allowed (45), points per game (11.3), and sacks (17.0).

Former Raiders linebacker/defensive end Khalil Mack leads Chicago with 4.5 sacks.

Mack who was traded to Chicago from Oakland before the start of last season, told NFL Network’s Deion Sanders following Chicago’s win over Minnesota that he’s looking forward to the matchup against his former team.

“That’s the one I’m looking forward to,” Mack told Sanders. “I can’t lie to you, man. It’s going to to be a big one.”

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who came into Sunday’s contest with an NFL-leading 375 yards rushing through four games, was held to just 35 yards on 14 carries.

The Bears lived in Minnesota’s backfield all day, sacking quarterback Kirk Cousins six times in the game.

Following Sunday’s game, both teams will enter their bye weeks before Oakland travels to Green Bay to face the Packers, and the Bears taking on the New Orleans Saints at home in Week 7 respectively.

Oakland Raiders podcast with Joe Hawkes Beamon: Raiders have had their share of players with drama; Brown once tried to sneak in painted helmet; plus more

Photo credit: thetakeout.com

On the Raiders podcast with Joe Hawkes:

#1 The Raiders have a history of players that have had misfit issues or just wouldn’t play or couldn’t perform such as Randy Moss, JaMarcus Russell, Khalil Mack, and Aldon Smith. How would Antonio Brown match up with the best of those players?

#2 With Brown almost holding out because of his helmet issue now settled, does that still stain the team does that serve as a disruption?

#3 Brown tried to sneak his helmet into practice and had it painted silver and black it had to be a first for a counterfeit helmet.

#4 Brown’s story was a rough upbringing. When Brown was 16, his step father kicked him out of the house and Brown was a walk-on at Central Michigan and ended up getting drafted in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

#5 The Raiders back up quarterback Mike Glennon in Thursday’s preseason game in Glendale against the Arizona Cardinals had a productive game, going 11-14 for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He’s had a couple of impressive preseason games.

Joe Hawkes does the Raiders podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Report: Raiders trade WR Amari Cooper to the Cowboys for 1st-round pick

Photo credit: @NFL

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Jon Gruden and the Raiders are showing another young talent the door out of Oakland.

The Silver and Black have agreed to ship wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys, a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Monday. The Raiders will receive a first-round draft pick in exchange, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Raiders now own three first-round picks in 2019. In addition to owning their first-round pick, Oakland also owns Chicago’s first-round pick next season after trading star defensive end Khalil Mack to the Bears a week before the start of the season.

Mack has been on a tear in the Windy City, recording 20 tackles (16 solo and 4 assisted), five sacks, four forced fumbles (1 recovery) and one interception this season. As a team, the Raiders have seven sacks combined, three by linebacker Bruce Irvin.

Cooper is off to a slow start in 2018, catching just 22 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown through the team’s first six games this season. Last season, Cooper had a down year, registering just 48 receptions for 680 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games played.

In his first two seasons in the league after being drafted fourth overall by Oakland in 2015, Cooper was a Pro Bowler and amassed 1,000 yards in each season.

Cooper is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol after being diagnosed with a concussion in Oakland’s 27-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in London on Oct. 14.

The Raiders (1-5) are coming off a bye week and will host the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 28 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Indianapolis (2-5) defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-5 on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Raiders to host Rams in regular season opener on Monday Night Football

Photo credit: @Raiders

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — Yes, the NFL regular season is finally here. No more of watching unwatchable preseason football and hoping that both teams put on solid efforts.

The Oakland Raiders will begin their 2018 regular season on Monday night when they will welcome the Los Angeles Rams to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The game between the two clubs will be the second game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader, which kicks off at 7:20 p.m. PT.

The New York Jets travel to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions in Game 1. Kickoff for that game is at 4:10 p.m. PT.

The Raiders met the Rams in Week 2 of the preseason in Los Angeles. The Rams won a snore of a game, 19-15, with both teams opting to hold out their starters.

This time around, things will be different as this is the regular season and the games count more than they do in the preseason.

The big story surrounding the Raiders has been the trade of defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears on Sept. 2. Oakland was unable to come to terms on a new longterm contract for the star defender.

The Raiders were hoping that Mack would return to the team and play under the franchise tag of $13.8 million but when it appeared that Mack wasn’t going to show up for any of Oakland’s training camp, head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie shipped the 27-year-old former NFL Defensive Player of the Year to the Bears for a boatload of draft picks: first- and sixth-round picks in 2019, and first- and third-round picks in 2020.

Along with Mack, the Bears received second- and fifth-round picks in 2020 as part of the deal.

Oakland will miss Mack no doubt. Mack amassed 40.5 sacks over the past four seasons for the Raiders and the name of the game on defense is to hit the quarterback and Oakland just let their best pass rusher walk out the door.

Last season, the Raiders finished 24th in defense last year despite Mack’s 10.5 sacks. This season, the Raiders will need to improve that ranking if they are to return to the playoffs after a dismal 6-10 season last year following a 12-4 campaign in 2016. That means rookies on the defensive line such as P.J. Hall, Maurice Hurst and Arden Key will be tasked to pick up the slack for Mack.

Quarterback Derek Carr is looking for a bounce back season of his own in 2018.

Last season, Carr’s numbers dipped a bit: throwing for 3,496 yards, with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 86.4 passer rating after throwing for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions to go along with a career-high 96.7 passer rating in 2016.

With Gruden back in town (after taking over for the fired Jack Del Rio), Carr’s play is expected to take off. Gruden is credited as being an offensive genius when designing plays and Carr’s performance will be critical for the Raiders’ offense that finished  23rd in production in 2017.

The Rams defense finished in 12th in scoring defense (20.6 points per game) and are loaded.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, leads the Rams into Oakland looking to build off of the team’s first postseason birth since 2004. Los Angeles won the NFC West title after finishing 11-5 last season and are one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in Atlanta on Feb. 3, 2019.

Los Angeles added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to play next to Donald in the offseason, along with cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters via trades to shore up their secondary.

The Rams have one of the best offenses in the league, led by third-year quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley.

After a subpar rookie season in 2016 in which he threw for just 1,089 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions under former head coach Jeff Fisher, Goff exploded in 2017 under first-year head coach Sean McVay throwing for career-highs in yards (3,804), touchdowns (28) and passer rating (100.5).

Goff threw just seven interceptions during the 2017 campaign.

Gurley had a bounce back season too under McVay after a disappointing 2016 season where Gurley rushed for a career-low 885 yards and six touchdowns. The fourth-year running back rushed for career-highs in yards (1,305) and touchdowns (13). Gurley finished second in the NFL in total rushing, falling just 22 yards short of league-leader in rookie Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders could have their hands full with a Rams offense that finished first in scoring last season, averaging 29.9 points per game.

After Monday night’s game, both teams will begin their divisional schedule Sunday, September 16, with the Raiders traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos, while the Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Games will be scheduled for 1:25 pm and 1:05 pm, respectively.

Headline Sports podcast with London Marq: Raiders open up regular season on MNF; The shock waves of the Khalil Mack trade; plus more

Photo credit: @steverosenbloom

On the Headline Sports podcast with London:

#1 The Oakland Raiders open up their regular season this Monday night September 10th at the Oakland Coliseum. There are lots of expectations for the Raiders on the primetime show.

#2 The talk throughout the NFL is the Khalil Mack trade to the Chicago Bears and getting a record $114 million deal. London discusses how this will work out for the Bears.

#3 Trump says that Nike is sending a “terrible message” with the Colin Kaepernick ad. Trump still doesn’t see unequal treatment and police brutality going on in the African American and Latino/Hispanic communities.

#4 The San Jose Earthquakes, who took a tough 2-1 loss last Saturday in Vancouver, have another two months worth of soccer left with only three wins for the season. Can they make the best of it or will they just go through the motions and suffer through it?

#5 After former Sacramento Kings player DeMarcus Cousins left Sacramento, who will carry the Kings this season? Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Bogdan Bogdanovic, D’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, or another player to be named later?

London Marq does the Headline Sports each Wednesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Raiders get set for LA trip, take on Rams at Memorial Coliseum Saturday

Photo credit: therams.com

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — For the first time in 24 years, the Raiders will play a game in Los Angeles when they face the Rams at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. PT.

This is the second-straight season that the Rams and the Raiders link up in the preseason.

Los Angeles won 24-21 at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum last August. Oakland will host the Rams in Week 1 as part of a double-header on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, but don’t expect both teams to reveal any true game plans Saturday.

It was December 24, 1994 that the then-Los Angeles Raiders lost a 19-9 game to the Kansas City Chiefs that would end the Raiders’ 12-year run in Southern California. Depending on who you talk to, the Raiders still hold a major footprint in the country’s second-largest media market next to New York.

Even with the Rams back in town after relocating from St. Louis, where they won the franchise’s only Super Bowl trophy, following a 20-year stint from 1995-2015, it’s as if the Raiders have never left as you can still see people wearing Raiders’ gear.

The Raiders did win a Super Bowl in Los Angeles following the 1983 season, the third trophy in franchise history.

That’s why I’m very interested to see how much of the 93,607-seat Memorial Coliseum will be Silver and Black Saturday afternoon as both teams will play their second preseason game.

The Raiders defeated the visiting Detroit Lions, 16-10, last Friday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Quarterback Derek Carr and the first-team offense started the game, playing just one drive before heading to the sideline. Carr completed just 2-of-4 passes for 11 yards in his night of work, but the first-team offense did show some potential of being a big-play offense this season, after seeing running back Marshawn Lynch dart down the Oakland sideline for a 60-yard touchdown run before the play was called back following a holding call on rookie left tackle Kolton Miller.

Expect Carr and the first-team offense to play more than one series, after Raiders head coach Jon Gruden broke training camp Thursday giving the players the day off.

Connor Cook, who took over for Carr, completed 11-of-19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown while playing the remainder of the first half. Cook would lead the Raiders to a 13-7 halftime lead, looked good engineering the Raiders’ second-team offense.

Undrafted rookie running back Chris Warren III played extensively, recording 13 carries for 86 yards. Its just one preseason game, but Warren III is making a strong case to make the team with impressive showings in recent training camp practices according to reports from Napa.

Defensively, Oakland was without star defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who has been a training camp holdout as he seeks a new contract. Missing that game cost Mack $814,000. Mack won’t play Saturday, which will cost him another $814,000.

Oakland’s defense won’t nearly be as formidable without Mack, who has made three trips to the Pro Bowl, named All-Pro twice, and won Defensive Player of the Year in his first four seasons in the NFL.

Rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall showed great activity when he stepped on the field, recording a sack and a batted pass on his first two plays in the NFL. Other rookies like defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and cornerback Nick Nelson will get more playing time Saturday.

New kicker Eddy Pineiro made a case to be Oakland’s permanent kicker, nailing all three of his field goals. The rookie made field goals from 21, 48, and 45 yards.

Fellow rookie in defensive end Arden Key is expected to play Saturday after missing the previous game with a “tweaked” ankle per reports. As a sophomore at LSU, Key would set a school-record by registering 12 sacks in 2016.

As a matter of fact, Oakland could have their entire rookie class available this Saturday for the first time since their rookie class of 2016, per Marcus Allen Krause of Silver and Black Pride.

Second-year cornerback Gareon Conley, who has been nursing a shin injury, is expected to make is preseason debut against the Rams.  It was revealed early in training camp that Conley had suffered vitamin D deficiency, which became a major talking point on the Raiders.

Last week, the Rams traveled to Baltimore to open up their preseason slate, before being toppled by the Ravens 33-7.

Backup quarterback Sean Mannion started for the Rams in place of starter Jared Goff, completed just 3-of-13 passes for 16 yards and one interception, as Los Angeles held out the majority of their starting offense. Third-year quarterback Brandon Allen fared better, connecting on 10-of-15 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Star running back Todd Gurley didn’t suit up for the Rams, but was on the sideline.

Los Angeles rewarded Gurley with a four-year $57 million extension with $45 million guaranteed in the offseason following a career-year in 2017 in which he rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Gurley also finished with career-highs in receptions (64), receiving yards (788) and touchdowns (5) last season in route to being named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Los Angeles traded for former Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who is coming off his third-straight of a least 60 catches, 1,000 yards and six touchdowns, and gave the aforementioned Goff another weapon to throw to.

Los Angeles led the NFL in scoring, averaging 29.9 points per game in 2017, and were a top-10 offense orchestrated by the second-year Goff (who threw for a career-high 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 100.5 passer rating), designed by first-year head coach Sean McVay.

McVay, the NFL’s youngest head coach at age 31, is a Gruden disciple, cutting his teeth as a coaching assistant on Gruden’s staff with the Buccaneers in 2008. The former wide receiver at Miami of Ohio from 2004 to 2007 eventually would work his way to being the offensive coordinator at Washington under head coach Jay Gruden, the brother of Jon.

After leading the Rams to an 11-5 season, the NFC West title and the team’s first playoff appearance in 13 years, expectations are running high for McVay and Co. in Year 2.

Whenever the Rams come to terms with star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year (and former Defensive Rookie of the Year) on a new contract, Los Angeles will have one of the best defenses in the league heading into the season. The Rams added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib via trades to bolster the defense around Donald.

Just like Mack, Donald is holding out of training camp looking for new long term deal. Donald didn’t make the trip to Baltimore last week, and he too was fined a game check.

Donald missed out on a $405,000 payday for skipping the game.

The four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro is adamant that he’s not playing a game without a new deal after outplaying his rookie deal after the Rams selected him 13th overall in 2014.

So the similarities are there between the Rams and the Raiders:

  1. Head coaches that are offensively innovative and detailed, but don’t expect Gruden or McVay to reveal their hands prior to Week 1.
  2. Star defensive players that should get massive deals, but when will Mack and Donald sign?

Following Saturday’s game, the Raiders will host the Green Bay Packers at home next Friday, while Los Angeles will host the Houston Texas next Saturday.

Raiders return to national stage, play Eagles in Philadelphia Christmas night

Photo credit: @SuperBowl2018US

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — Similar with the Dallas Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders gear up for another unfamiliar opponent when they travel east this week to take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Christmas night at 5:30 p.m. PT. This is Oakland’s first appearance on MNF this year, while it’s Philadelphia’s second appearance this season.

This is Oakland’s first game in Philadelphia since 2005 and their final trip east this season. The Raiders hold a 6-5 edge over the Eagles in 11 games played all-time.

Last Sunday night, the Raiders (6-7) lost a close game, 20-17, over the visiting Dallas Cowboys in prime-time on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Oakland’s defense held Dallas (8-6) to just 330 yards of total offense.

Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack penetrated Dallas’s top-ranked offensive line for two sacks on the night. With 10.5 sacks on the season, Mack is in the top-10 in the NFL in sacks and has posted a sack in five-straight games since Week 11.

Cornerback Sean Smith recorded two interceptions off Cowboys starting quarterback Dak Prescott, matching Oakland’s season total coming into the game. Oakland has just four interceptions this season. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the defense once again with 11 solo tackles against Dallas.

Offensively, the Raiders continued to struggle scoring points Sunday. Oakland was shut out in the first half for the fourth time this season as the Cowboys took a 10-0 lead into halftime.

Starting quarterback Derek Carr threw for just 171 yards on 21-of-38 passing and two touchdowns, both to starting wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Crabtree finished with seven catches for 39 yards to go along with his two scores. WR Seth Roberts (starting for wide receiver Amari Cooper who missed his second-straight game with a left ankle injury), led Oakland with 52 receiving yards on three catches.

On the ground, Oakland rushed for 122 yards, including 76 yards from starting running back Marshawn Lynch and 47 yards from Carr.

With their playoff chances on life support, the Raiders are facing a must-win game against the team with league’s best record in the Eagles.

Philadelphia (12-2) clinched their first playoff berth since 2013 behind second-year head coach Doug Pederson. Pederson finished 7-9 in his first season at the helm of the Eagles. In last week’s 34-29 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, Philadelphia also secured a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs and have the inside track on the No. 1 seed.

The Eagles lead the NFL in scoring per game (31.3), second in rushing yards per game (140.5), and third in total yards per game (386.9). Before suffering a season-ending ACL injury during Philadelphia’s 43-35 victory in Los Angeles over the Rams, second-year quarterback Carson Wentz was having an MVP-type of season throwing for a franchise-record and league-leading 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.

In 13 games this season, Wentz threw for 3,296 yards to go along with a 101.9 quarterback rating. In his rookie season, Wentz threw for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a 79.3 quarterback rating.

With Wentz out for the remainder of the year, the Eagles turned to sixth-year pro in backup quarterback Nick Foles. In his start last week against the Giants, Foles threw for 237 yards on 24-of-38 passing and four touchdowns. The last time Foles saw the Raiders, it was in 2013 and he destroyed the Silver and Black.

Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in Philadelphia’s 49-20 victory at Oakland on Nov. 3, 2013. Foles threw for 406 yards on 22-of-28 passing for a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 in the contest.

Oakland’s 23rd ranked passing defense must be on high alert for an Eagles squad that have three receivers who’ve registered 700-plus receiving yards: wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (781), wide receiver Nelson Agholor (722) and tight end Zach Ertz (719). The trio have combined for 25 touchdown catches this season, with Jeffery scoring a team-best nine while Ertz and Agholor each are one behind with eight scores.

Ertz leads the team with 63 receptions.

Eighth-year running back LeGarrette Blount leads the Eagles with 717 rushing yards on 159 carries (4.5 avg) and two touchdowns in is first year with Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL this season. First-year Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has this unit playing top-notch football this season, forcing turnovers almost automatically. Schwartz’ defense has recorded 17 interceptions this season, good for third in the NFL.  Starting cornerbacks Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and starting safety Rodney McLeod are tied for the team lead with three interceptions apiece.

Mills has the team’s lone defensive touchdown scored this season. Defensive end Brandon Graham has a career-best 9.5 sacks this season, tied for eighth in the NFC.

Next Sunday, the Raiders will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers on a short week to close out the 2017 regular season. This will mark Oakland’s first trip to the StubHub Center.

Raiders look for second half turnaround after bye week head to Mexico City Nov. 19th

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) signs autographs at the end of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Raiders defeated the Dolphins 27-24. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — With nine games in the books, the Raiders are 4-5 at the bye week. Coming into the 2017 season, not many people had the Silver and Black under .500 especially with the offensive talent the Raiders sport led by starting quarterback Derek Carr.

In eight games (Carr missed Week 5 with a back injury), Oakland’s signal-caller has thrown for 1,954 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Carr is completing a career-high 65.2-percent of his passes this season and is on pace for another 3,000-yard passing season (his fourth-straight).

As much as wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper get most of the praise in the passing game, it has been tight end Jared Cook that has proven to be Carr’s most trusted pass-catcher through the first half of the season.

Cook leads Oakland in receptions (39) and receiving yards (499) this season. The nine-year veteran is just 13 receptions away from tying his career-high of 52 he established in 2014 as a member of the then-St. Louis Rams, and is just 261 receiving yards away of from surpassing his career-high of 759 yards he set in his third season with the Tennessee Titans in 2011.

Cook caught a team-leading eight passes for 128 yards in Oakland’s 27-24 win in Miami last Sunday in prime time on NBC Sunday Night Football.

For Oakland, it was a much needed win coming off a 34-14 loss in Buffalo the previous Sunday, and entering Hard Rock Stadium having lost the previous five straight matchups to the Dolphins.

Despite struggling with dropping the football early in the season, Cooper is second on the team with 38 receptions for 462 yards and three touchdowns. His 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-30 victory over AFC West rival the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7 helped snap Oakland’s four-game losing streak after starting the season 2-0.

Crabtree has 36 receptions for 451 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns, three of those scores came in Oakland 45-20 demolishing over the visiting New York Jets in Week 2.

Running back Marshawn Lynch leads the Raiders ground game with 323 yards rushing and four touchdowns this season. The Oakland-native hasn’t put up big numbers this season in his return to the football field after a year of retirement, but his ability to slow down the game and pick up first-downs could be key for the Raiders down the stretch.

If Oakland is leading in the fourth quarter, the ball should be fed to No. 24. No questions asked. Lynch had a bounce back performance against the Dolphins, rushing for 57 yards on 14 carries for two touchdowns after serving a one-game suspension the previous week for making contact with an official against the Chiefs in Week 7.

The NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year in defensive end Khalil Mack leads Oakland with 4.5 sacks this season and continues to be a terror to opposing offensive linemen, but its been the play of cornerback TJ Carrie that flies under the radar.

Carrie is tied with fellow secondary mates Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph for the team-lead with 50 tackles and has four passes defensed in eight games. The in-season pickup of inside linebacker NaVarro Bowman, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers after seven seasons on Oct. 13, has added a veteran presence and leader with big-game experience to the locker room.

In three games with the Raiders, Bowman has registered 32 tackles (11 tackles in back-to-back games and 10 tackles against the Dolphins), immediately paying dividends for Oakland.

But the fact that the Raiders haven’t recorded an interception through the team’s first nine games (an NFL record), is still a problem. The team’s top pick in last April’s NFL Draft  in cornerback Gareon Conley was expected to be a big part of the defense, but has only played in a handful of plays this year while battling shin splints.

For those of you who are wondering, the 1982 Houston Oilers own the record for fewest interceptions recorded by a defense in a season with three, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Along with the then-1982 Baltimore Colts, the 2005 edition of the Raiders are tied for second in NFL history recording just five interceptions.

When Oakland returns from the bye week, they will have to prepare for quarterback Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in Mexico City on Nov. 19.

The 40-year-old Brady is still going strong in his 18th season in the league, second among passers in yards (2,541) and touchdowns (16). His two interceptions are the second-fewest thrown by starting quarterbacks behind Kansas City’s Alex Smith, (league-high 18 touchdowns) who threw his first interception of the season in Week 9.

Before Oakland plays New England, the Raiders will be rooting for the Patriots (6-2) in Week 10, who travel to Denver to take on the Broncos (3-5) Sunday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in prime time.

 

Oakland Raiders are off to Denver to open up divisional play against the Broncos this Sunday

Photo credit: Raiders Report (@raiders_fanly)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — The Raiders travel to Denver to take on fellow AFC West rival, the Broncos, Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to open divisional play for the Silver and Black.

Both teams are looking to get back into the win column after both losing on the road in Week 3.

Oakland (2-1) was humbled by the Redskins 27-10 in Washington on prime-time in a game that the Redskins held quarterback Derek Carr and the high-power Raiders offense to just 128 yards in 48 plays ran. The offense didn’t hit the 100-yard mark in total offense until the fourth quarter.

Carr had a game to forget, completing just 19-of-31 passes for 118 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions with a 52.9 passer rating. Tight end Jared Cook led all Oakland receivers with 43 yards on four receptions. Cook scored his first touchdown in a Raider uniform on a 21-yard pass from Carr.

Carr was also sacked four times, another rarity for the Silver and Black who only surrendered 16 sacks in 2016.  Oakland’s stout offensive line has already gotten Carr sacked six times this season through three games.

Oakland’s defense was paced by linebacker Cory James, who recorded a team-high 12 tackles and one forced fumble. Defensive end Khalil Mack recorded his second sack of the season while finishing with nine tackles on the night for Oakland, who allowed 472 yards offensively to Washington on Sunday night.

Washington starting quarterback Kirk Cousins torched the Raiders, passing for 365 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Cousins completed 25-of-30 passes and finished with a blistering 150.7 passer rating against Oakland, who couldn’t keep running back Chris Thompson at bay the entire night.

Thompson hauled in six receptions for 150 yards (74 yards coming on an easy pitch-and-catch

But the lack of production from Oakland’s top receivers was the real eye-popping issue from the game.

Washington’s secondary led by the trash-talking Josh Norman, the Redskins’ top cornerback, were in the faces of Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Washington held the duo in check, limiting Cooper and Crabtree to just two receptions for 13 yards on eight targets.

Crabtree and Cooper will have their work cut out for them again Sunday when they have Denver’s stellar pair of cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., lined up against them, especially when  Crabtree and Talib line up.

Who can forget when Talib ripped off Crabtree’s gold chain following a play in last year’s season finale, a 24-6 victory for the Broncos at home?

The Crabtree/Talib matchup could be the best one-on-one matchup within the game, and could prove to be the difference maker in a win for either team.

Denver (2-1) is coming off a 26-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Western New York last week. The Broncos defense recorded four sacks and held Buffalo to 272 yards of total offense. Linebacker Brandon Marshall recorded a team-high 10 tackles and one sack.

Outside linebacker Von Miller also posted a sack, but his 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on third-and-six after not helping up Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, which was an absolute joke, proved to be critical in aiding the Bills to victory.

The Broncos’ defense is one of the best in the league, ranking first in rushing yards per game allowed (59.7), fourth in total yards per game allowed (263), 10th in passing yards per game allowed (203.3) and 16th in points per game allowed (21.3) through three games.

Oakland has the ninth-best offense in the league, averaging 27 points per game.

Offensively, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas led Denver with six receptions for 98 yards, but quarterback Trevor Siemian didn’t pass the ball well, completing 24-for-40 passes for 259 yards and like Carr in Washington, threw two interceptions against the Bills.

Siemian finished with a 58.2 passer rating on the day.

With Kansas City sitting on top of the AFC West at 3-0 and both teams needing to keep pace, Sunday’s game is most certainly a must win.

After the embarrassing showing in Washington where many critics started to question the Raiders’ effort on national television, what team will show up in Denver?

The one that resembled a powerhouse team after vanquishing Tennessee and the New York Jets almost with ease?

Or the team that was hung upside down by their ankles in Washington, watching all of their lunch money spill out?