Scouting notes and observations following the Oakland Raiders’ Week 11 victory over the Houston Texans in the heart of Mexico.
One of the primary marks of the first nine weeks of the season prior to the club’s Week 10 bye, was the Oakland Raiders’ unique ability to hit the road for long trips and bring home W’s. With a 5-0 road record, the Raiders have shown a major “Road Warriors” mentality.
Coming off a HUGE Week 9 win over AFC West rival and the defending champion Denver Broncos, the Raiders got their bye week and then took their 7-2 record south of the border to Mexico City for the first non-U.S. Monday Night Football game in history. This game was officially a “home” game, but represented yet another week of significant travel for the squad.
With the Tampa Bay Bucs doing the Raiders a favor on Sunday and beating the Chiefs, the Raiders entered Monday night as leaders in the AFC West. But this would only last if the Raiders came home with a W over the AFC South leading Texans. Furthermore, playoff seeding in the overall AFC was certainly on the line. So it was yet another huge game.
Despite the travel and the extremely high elevation, Jack Del Rio’s squad yet again answered the bell. In front of a rowdy (and laser-wielding) Mexico City crowd, the Raiders snatched victory from the jaws of defeat once again, 27-20, to move to 8-2 and alone in first in the AFC West and currently the #1 seed in the entire AFC.
If the playoffs started today, the Raiders would have a bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC tourney. WOW!
The story of the Monday night matchup was the Raiders successful use of their RBs in the passing game. While the Raiders ran for just 30 yards, their RBs combined for 199 yards receiving and 2 TDs. The Raiders under OC Bill Musgrave exploited the lack of underneath and flat/hole coverage on the backs to knife the Texans’ defense, especially in the 4th quarter.
With the huge win in Mexico City and the record now 8-2, the Raiders head back home to Oakland to take on the defending NFC champ Carolina Panthers, who have not been up to their 2015 standard, but still represent a strong opponent.
With the win on Monday, the Raiders certainly should be focused on attaining their first playoff berth since the 2002 Super Bowl loss season. And right now, claiming the AFC West title banner should be a primary goal.
Here are various notes and observations from the first home win of the year, including all areas of the game — offense, defense, and special teams.