Photo credit: @Raiders
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — The Raiders are off to London to play in their third-straight international game, this time against the Seattle Seahawks. Sunday’s game from Wembley Stadium will mark the 53rd meeting between the two franchises, with Oakland leading the series 28-24 all-time. This will be Oakland’s fourth game in five weeks on the road.
This is the second time that two teams face each other in 2018, as the Raiders defeated the Seahawks 30-19 in Seattle to close out the preseason schedule.
Kickoff is set for 10:00 a.m. PT. So breakfast with football is always nice.
Last week, the Raiders (1-4) fell to AFC West division-rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, 26-10 at StubHub Center in Carson in what sounded like the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with many members of Raider Nation making up the attendance.
Starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 24-of-33 passes for 263 yards with one touchdown and one interception as the Chargers’ defense held Oakland to just 289 yards of total offense. Through five games this season, Carr has thrown a league-leading eight interceptions, three coming inside the red zone and two into the end zone.
Coming into the Week 5 meeting with Los Angeles, the Raiders were averaging 411.8 yards of total offense per game ranking second in the NFL.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson caught his team-leading third receiving touchdown of the year, a 1-yard score from Carr in the fourth quarter with the Raiders trailing 26-3. Since 2016, Nelson leads the NFL with 19 receiving touchdowns inside the red zone according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
After rushing for 130 yards on 20 carries against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4, Marshawn Lynch was quiet against the Chargers carrying the ball just nine times for 31 yards. Lynch will look to get back on track in London against his former team in Seattle, whose defense ranks 29th against the run surrendering 129 yards on the ground per game.
Defensively, Bruce Irvin recorded his team-leading third sack of the season, while linebacker Tahir Whitehead paced the Raiders with nine tackles for the second-straight game. It was the fourth time this season that Whitehead has led the team in tackles in a game.
Whitehead leads the Raiders with 37 combined tackles (26 solo and 11 assisted) this season.
The Seahawks (2-3) lost a close game to NFC West division-rival the Los Angeles Rams, 33-31 last week at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Seahawks starting quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing. In five games this season, the former Super Bowl MVP has thrown for 1,086 yards, with 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Running back Chris Carson tallied his second 100-yard rushing game in the last three weeks, carrying the ball 19 times for 116 yards against a talented Rams defensive front highlighted by reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
With veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin slowed by a knee injury this season, Tyler Lockett has become Wilson’s top target in Seattle’s areal attack. Lockett had just three catches against the Rams, but finished with a team-high 98 yards receiving and one touchdown, a 39-yard strike from Wilson in the second quarter.
On the season, the fourth-year wideout from Kansas State leads the Seahawks in catches (20), targets (28), receiving yards (347), and touchdowns (4). His 17.4 yards per catch is second on the team behind rookie tight end Will Dissly, who is on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Oakland’s much maligned secondary must account for Lockett, who can blow by defenses in the open field with his speed.
With longtime safety Earl Thomas on injured reserve after breaking his leg two weeks ago in a Seahawks’ win at Arizona, the vaunted Seahawks defense that we’ve all come to know over the last few seasons is unrecognizable. Before the injury, Thomas was playing at a high-level, leading the Seahawks with three interceptions.
In the offseason, the team parted ways with lockdown cornerback Richard Sherman and terrorizing defensive end Michael Bennett. They saw the enforcer of the defense, strong safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril retire due to neck injuries just to name a few.
Seattle still has middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is smart football player that can cover field, sideline-to-sideline, but strong safety Bradley McDougald has quickly become Seattle’s top defender.
Now in his sixth season in the NFL and second season in the Emerald City after spending the previous four seasons between Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the 6’1″, 215-pound McDougald isn’t the menacing presence that the 6’3, 225-pound Chancellor is, but he packs quite a punch. McDougald leads the Seahawks with 32 combined tackles (29 solo and 3 assisted) to go with two interceptions.
After Sunday’s game, both teams will be head on their bye weeks for Week 7. When the teams return in Week 8, the Raiders will host the Indianapolis Colts at 1:05 pm PT, while Seattle heads out on the road to take on the Detroit Lions at 10:00 am PT.