The Oakland Raiders have had some rocky recent history when it comes to Week 1 games (2-6 since 2009). Knowing how last season started and ended, there’s a bit of pressure on the Raiders to start 2017 1-0. That being said…
Here’s How It Goes Down
Derek Carr comes out with a chip on his shoulder but finishes with a fairly modest 250 yards and 2 TD’s on the day. Marshawn Lynch starts out with a decent day in the backfield (17 carries for 75 yards) and Khalil Mack gets a strip sack to lead Oakland to a 28-16 win.
First, the timing itself. Few fans will remember that these two (albeit dramatically different teams) met in Week 1 in 2010, a 38-13 Tennessee win. Also and statistically, Tennessee will be favored on paper due to the Raiders breaking a streak of five straight Week 1 losses last year while the Titans have split their last six season openers. However, head coach Mike Mularkey has only won one season opener in his entire coaching career. With the weight of expectations and trying to repeat a winning season, Tennessee is prone for a letdown.
Second, matchups. While most of the intrigue lies on Marshawn Lynch’s debut and how Derek Carr can bounce back from injury, let’s look at the other side of the ball. Marcus Mariota spent the vast majority of 2016 in the shotgun, which is easy for a good 3-4 defense like Oakland’s to generate pressure against. If Khalil Mack doesn’t have a good day, then someone else will.
Finally and as teased before, Lynch can start a season strong. In his career, Lynch has averaged just over 15 carries in season openers and he’s averaged at least 4.0 yards per rush six times. Tennessee will be prone to shut him down, but that will just open up Carr to throw to his three weapons. Not to mention the flexibility of Cordarrelle Patterson with a special package of plays out of the backfield. Expect to see those kinds of plays once or twice to make future opponents plan just a little bit more.
Score Prediction: Oakland 28 – Tennesse 16