The Oakland Raiders take on another tough team as they face the New Orleans Saints and their explosive offense on Sunday at O.Co Coliseum.
Oakland is coming off of back-to-back losses while the Saints are coming off back-to-back wins that include handing the Atlanta Falcons their first loss of the season.
A week after giving up 341 yards and three passing touchdowns to the Baltimore Ravens, the Raiders will have to face arguably one of the best passing attacks led by quarterback Drew Brees. The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback has led the Saints offense to a league-second best 303.9 passing yards per game.
Oakland’s pass defense, which is ranked 24th in the league, will need to have a good day to slow down the Saints passing attack. With so many weapons, it will be tough for Ron Bartell and the secondary to cover all of them. The Raiders safeties will have to be aware of Saints explosive tight end Jimmy Graham.
While their passing game is explosive, the Saints offense lacks much of a running game though it has been given a boost by Chris Ivory. Ivory is averaging 7.1 yards per carry since being given a chance in New Orleans due to the loss of Darren Sproles. The Saints are averaging just 88.4 yards per game this season, but is averaging 144 yards per game over the last two weeks since Sproles left with a broken hand.
With the Saints scoring 27.7 points per game (seventh in the NFL), the Oakland Raiders offense will need to be clicking on all cylinders to keep the Raiders in the game. The Saints provide the fourth worst scoring defense in the league, just one better than the Raiders. The game is expected to be a shootout as two of the bottom five defenses will be featured.
It appears that it will be fullback Marcel Reece and running backs Taiwan Jones and Jeremy Stewart that will get the bulk of the rushing carries with running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson still out with high-ankle sprains. The Raiders once again are going up a porous rush defense that is ranked last in the NFL while giving up 162.0 yards per game. The Raider offensive line will have to find a way to open up holes for the running back corps, something they’ve been limited at throughout the season so far.
Quarterback Carson Palmer can be expected to have a big day going up against a Saints defense that is second worse is pass defense, giving up 307.3 yards per game. With wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey questionable on the injury report, Denarius Moore and undrafted rookie Rod Streater will need to have a big game and get open for Palmer to find. There’s no question that the absence of Heyward-Bey will likely increase the opportunities for Reece to bring in some receptions as he has the past couple of weeks.
The possible return of right tackle Khalif Barnes may bring a much-needed boost to an offensive line that has struggled this season. Barnes may be able to help stabilize the pass rush while open up holes in the rushing attack.
The Raiders would love to get back into the win column as they head into Cincinnati next week to take on a tough Bengals team with an explosive passing game of their own.
Out: Mike Goodson (ankle), Darren McFadden (ankle), Richard Seymour (knee, hamstring)
Questionable: Tyvon Branch (neck), Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring)
Probable: Khalif Barnes (groin), Matt Giordano (concussion), Richard Gordon (hamstring), Sebastian Janikowski (left groin), Brandon Myers (shoulder/concussion), Marcel Reece (hamstring)
Out: Zach Strief (groin), Junior Galette (ankle), Corey White (knee)
Questionable: Darren Sproles (hand)
Probable: Courtney Roby (shoulder)