Everything to know for the Oakland Raiders regular season home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Following a thrilling 35-34 win over the New Orleans Saints, a game in which Derek Carr showed the world he has pure ice in his veins, Oakland is set to play their home opener against the Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
Hoping to christen the year with a home opening win, I for one know that the Raider Nation is fired up to welcome the Silver and Black back home, and are sure to create a hostile environment for the Falcons.
Oakland faces a team led by a smart but declining QB in Matt Ryan, yet despite this, I fully expect him to target star wideout Julio Jones early and often, opening up lanes for a potentially dangerous rushing attack led by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Coming off an 8-8 year that relied heavily on Ryan and Freeman carrying the team, Atlanta is definitely a mystery coming into Sunday’s game after a lackluster showing against Tampa Bay last week.
Sunday marks the 14th all-time meeting between the Raiders and the Falcons, a history stretching back to the inaugural meeting in 1971 — a 24-13 loss. Atlanta is 2-4 against Oakland when on the road, but look to extend an overall three game win streak over the Silver and Black.
While the Falcons have two Pro Bowl stars in WR Julio Jones and RB Devonta Freeman, the Atlanta defense is extremely young, and prone to miscommunication and missed tackles. On top of that, the Falcons were only able to muster 52 yards on 22 carries, a paltry 2.4 yards an attempt — two stats that bode well for an opportunistic Oakland team.
Schedule, Live Stream and Radio Broadcast
TV: 1:25 PM PST/4:25 PM EST on CBS. Rich Gannon and Kevin Harlan will be announcing
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Radio: 95.7 The Game with Greg Papa
Point Spread: Raiders are 5 point favorites with an Over/Under of 49 points, per Bovada
Things To Know:
- If Oakland has any hope of improving the secondary, this is as good a test as any.
Julio Jones is a freak. Plain and simple. A 6’3″ 229-pound man should not be able to do the things athletically that Julio does. And despite this, he is a much better matchup for the Oakland DB’s than the Saints duo of Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead.
With Sean Smith standing 6’3″ and 220 pounds, his ability to play press man with a safety over the top is key to slowing down the biggest passing threat Matt Ryan has at wideout.
Opposite Julio, Mohamed Sanu is a very capable number two WR who may capitalize on safeties shifting towards Julio if Amerson is lulled to sleep. Definitely keep an eye on these two matchups.
- Can Oakland capitalize on a depleted defense?
Last week Atlanta started two rookies and a second-year player at LB, and on top of that, the only threats they currently have on DL are an aging Jonathan Babineaux playing alongside an underrated Grady Jarrett.
Of the three LB’s Atlanta had starting (Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and De’Vondre Campbell), only one is over 232 pounds, and none have shown the ability to consistently wrap-up and bring down a ball carrier, nor were any of the Atlanta LB’s even close to decent in coverage.
If Oakland can come out hot and connect on a few big plays, this defense could be reeling early.
- Will Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington begin to shoulder the load?
While I expected Latavius Murray to capitalize on a suspect run defense last week in New Orleans, it was the Raiders two rookie backs in Richard and Washington who went off the most.
Richard took his first carry 75 yards for a TD, while Washington stepped up and made some great catches while making the most out of limited carries. As a whole, Latavius was ineffective for most of the game, with his lone bright spot being a 9-yard TD run where he lowered his shoulder on a Saints LB, a rare sight on any Latavius Murray run it seems.
With Latavius underwhelming, could we possibly see Musgrave begin to ride the hot hand, or hands, of the rookie duo? One can only hope.