Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Win in Pittsburgh = RESPECT

The Silver and Black travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday, to take on the Steelers at Heinz Field, 1:00pm EST.

QB Ben Roethlisberger will be playing in his second game back from injury and doing his best to improve their 4-4 record in the AFC North. For all intents and purposes, this game has major playoff implications.

The Raiders are 4-3, second place in the AFC West. The Broncos are undefeated at 7-0 as well are the Cincinnati Bengals who are 7-0 atop the AFC North. Unless the Broncos or Bengals hit a lull (and it's quite possible, but both the Raiders and Steelers would need to keep winning), my Raiders and the Steelers are competing for wild card spots.

In the AFC East, New England is 7-0 and unless Brady falls off the face of the earth, they will win their division. The second place team in the East are the Jets, who the Silver and Black HANDLED last week; this gives the Raiders a leg up on the Jets and the same will apply if we walk away victorious in Pittsburgh.

The AFC South - Indy Colts, Texans, Jaguars, and Titans - is so pathetic, no team should be allowed to represent this division in the NFL Playoffs, but, unfortunately, each division must have a winner.

Basically, the Oakland Raiders, at the midway point of the season, have their fate squarely in their hands. If we continue to play sound, mistake-free football (as we have in the past two weeks), we are playoff bound.

The Raiders improvement starts with Derrick Carr's play and the protection he's getting from the O-line. The football analytics website, "Pro Football Focus," grades the Raiders offensive line as the best in the NFL at pass protection, allowing pressured dropbacks about 17 percent of the time.

Raiders Offensive Lineman:

LT (72) Donald Penn, LG (66) Gabe Jackson, C (61) Rodney Hudson, RG (76) J'Marcus Webb, RT (77) Austin Howard. O-Line Coach, Mike Tice.

TE Clive Walford started the season as third on the depth chart. He's now showing improvement to the point that he could very well take over the number one spot, if his blocking skills are adequate.

Also, Taiwan Jones (converted back to RB after playing last season in the defensive backfield, which was a joke and one of a few reasons why Dennis Allen is history) is showing his previous form; nice moves and breakaway speed, as he showed last week against the Jets.

I'd still like to see Marcel Reece utilized a bit more, primarily because most teams can't match-up to him out of the backfield. Most linebackers have a difficult time covering Marcel. However, if Taiwan and Clive continue their improved play, there won't be enough snaps for Reece (which, to his misfortune, is actually a good problem for the team to have).