Andria’s Analysis this week reviews the Oakland Raiders’ game against the Buffalo Bills, leading the team a 3-5 record, and going to Miami to get back in the mix. Hopefully.
The Buffalo Bills showed up in a big way last Sunday versus the Raiders. Their league-leading turnover defense proved why they are at the top of that list, claiming two interceptions and forcing an impressive four fumbles. At the closing bell, the Raiders fell to the Bills by a disgusting 20 point margin, final score 34-14.
The opening drive of the game made the Raiders look like their 2016 form again. But another pulled hamstring for fullback Jamize Olawale would prove to be too much for the team to overcome. While Olawale ran another chunk play later in the game to put the Raiders back in striking distance, it was too little, too late. The routes were poor, there were more check-downs in this game than there are people screaming for Todd Downing’s head, and the running game was completely ineffective. Some speculation swirled around about how much the team really missed Marshawn Lynch, but he was busy getting a high school team suspended for practicing with them without permission.
So now we’ve seen the worst that the Raiders have to offer. Hopefully, anyways. The window is closing for Oakland to have any hopes of sniffing the playoffs this year. If they lose one more, the likelihood of them making the post-season will be almost zero. The competition in the AFC right now is such that there is little room for mistakes. And the Raiders have been making a few too many.
Can they beat the Dolphins or will they get beached on South Beach?
Up next are the Miami Dolphins. After the trade deadline passed this week, the Raiders’ chances are looking better, as Miami traded star running back Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia. (Speaking of Philly, if you thought they were good before, they just got downright terrifying.)
Back to the Raiders, this change may or may not work in their favor. The Oakland defense this year has struggled in pass defense but against the run, they’ve been able to hold their own. Since their star land weapon is gone, Miami will look to their star air weapon, Jarvis Landry, to make big plays and ruin the Raiders’ secondary.
Another change that was revealed this week that will definitely have an effect on the game is Obi Melifonwu. We won’t know if that change is positive or negative until Sunday. He was reportedly practicing with the cornerbacks at Raiders team practices this week, instead of the safeties. If he performs well at that position, this could bode very well for the Raiders, as they are likely missing their two starting corners, one to a foot injury and one to incompetence. Additionally, first-round pick Gareon Conley is still out of commission so that position sorely needs an able body.
Assuming Obi plays to his full potential and takes charge of that corner position, the Dolphins may find their passing game neutralized. The offense doesn’t have to be a problem if the Raiders play it right.
The other major concern against Miami is their defense, which is nothing to sneeze at. Cameron Wake, Kiko Alonso, and the big man Ndamukong Suh, all play at full speed for their portion of 60 straight minutes. The Raiders need to play their power blocking scheme in order to mitigate the aggressive rush that Miami promises. Don’t sleep on that defense because even if they’re dropping a 40-0 game to the Ravens, they will continue doling out punishment.
The good news is that the Oakland offensive line is fully capable of taking care of that rush. The bad news: they haven’t been running the scheme that allows them to do it. Perhaps Del Rio and Downing will peruse the internet before the game for some tips on how to play, because the Raider Ramble, among others, left roadmaps and flares last week for the blueprint to beat Buffalo, but to no avail. The Raiders can absolutely beat this team, but it has to be the Week 7 Raiders that shows up. Any of those other teams that showed up in Silver and Black on a Sunday may not be the right squad for the job.