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OAKLAND (vs. New Orleans)
Posted Nov. 14 at 10:28 AM
The Raiders are struggling. They’re 3-6, and two of the wins have come against arguably the worst teams in the league -- Kansas City and Jacksonville. But the Raiders still have substantial value this week. They’re at home, and they’re playing against a defense that’s on pace to allow the most yards in NFL history. The Raiders won’t necessarily win this game, but they should at least score a couple of touchdowns and pile up a lot of yards. ... Marcel Reece, for starters, looks surprisingly good. He’s normally a fullback but with Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson battling high ankle sprains, they’re using Reece as their main running back. Reece carried 13 times for 48 yards at Baltimore. Granted, that’s nothing special, but Reece is a very good pass catcher; he was a wide receiver in college. He caught 7 passes for 56 yards at Baltimore. The previous
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week, he caught 8 passes for 95. If the running game isn’t working or if the Raiders fall way behind, they’ll be passing a lot and Reece probably will catch a half-dozen dumpoff passes. He’s a starting tailback, so he should at least run for 40-50 yards. And he’s their goal-line guy; if the ball winds up on the 1, he’ll be the guy who punches it in. For this particular week, he’s at home, and he’s playing against a lousy New Orleans defense. Sure, it’s a unit that’s showed some nominal improvement the last two weeks against Philadelphia and Atlanta, but both of those games were in the Superdome. This is still a lesser, bottom-tier defense. New Orleans allowed over 220 rushing yards in Weeks 8-9. We think Reece has a chance to go over 100 total yards in this game. This is contingent, of course, on McFadden and Goodson being ruled out later in the week. Both suffered their injuries in Week 9, so it will be a surprise if either is active. McFadden seems to have a shot at returning in Week 12. ... Carson Palmer also looks very appealing. With the running game struggling, he’s carrying the offense. He’s averaging 303 yards per game, and he’s been putting the ball in the end zone recently. He’s thrown 2, 4 and 2 TDs in his last three games. Of the 18 TDs this offense has scored, all but 3 have come on pass plays. He faces a secondary that’s really soft. In their last six games, the Saints have held only one team under 300 passing yards and only one quarterback under 2 TDs. Four of those six teams threw at least 3 TDs. With this game being at Oakland-Alameda, it looks awfully likely that Palmer will finish with 300 yards and 2 TDs in this game -- at least. ... With it looking like a great matchup for the passing game, we’re high on Denarius Moore. He’s the team’s best receiver, and he’s playing well. He’s scored in four of his last five games, and he’s averaged 78 yards in those games. He’s caught 4 of the team’s last 10 TD passes. If you buy into the theory that Palmer should put up about 300 yards and 2 TDs in this game, then it looks awfully likely that Moore will go for 80-plus yards and a touchdown. ... Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t up there with Moore, but he’s been playing well recently. He’s gone over 70 yards only three times this year, but those games have all come in the last four weeks. Two touchdowns in those games as well. With this game looking so promising offensively, Heyward-Bey also looks like a viable starter. ... Brandon Myers has been the surprise of the year at tight end, on pace to catch 78 passes. He probably would catch 5-8 balls in this one. But Myers left the last game with a concussion, so it’s very iffy whether he’ll even play. He had a concussion earlier in the year, which will factor into the decision. We expect they’ll hold him out. That will put Richard Gordon in the lineup, but he’s not the same kind of pass catcher. They’ve also got David Ausberry, who was a wide receiver at Southern Cal, but we’re not confident how much he’ll play. ... At kicker, our general strategy is to ignore accuracy and power, instead going with the kickers from the better teams -- they tend to get more scoring opportunities. But Sebastian Janikowski, like Greg Zuerlein in St. Louis, is a mold buster. The Raiders are just 3-6, but Janikowski is averaging 8.8 points per game (on pace to finish the year with 140 points). ... We have no interest in the Raiders Defense. It doesn’t have much of a pass rush, with just 11 sacks, and it’s intercepted only 6 passes. It shouldn’t do much against Drew Brees. Brees is at 16 sacks and 9 interceptions, so in ballpark terms, look for 1-2 sacks, with about an 80 percent chance of an interception.
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