The Raiders probably made one of the biggest moves at the end of last season, officially moving to Las Vegas in January.
As a franchise, they’ve probably been in the same boat for the past couple of years. After having an outstanding year in 2016, the Raiders have failed to make any noise in the AFC West since. With a fresh start in Vegas, they made a handful of roster moves in the offseason to stay competitive in their division.
Their wide receiver core is full of depth with the signings of Tyrell Williams and Nelson Agholor. They also drafted Henry Ruggs from Alabama, a receiver known for his downhill speed. This group could give opposing teams trouble, especially deep down the field.
The Falcons don’t have much speed in their secondary, but they’re physical enough to make it hard for these receivers. If they can pressure them on the line of scrimmage, it should throw them off their game. A.J. Terrell, Isaiah Oliver, and Kendall Sheffield will play key factors into stopping this receiver group.
Disrupting the offense means disrupting Derek Carr, whose had a rollercoaster career for the Raiders. This may be the most talented roster he’s had, so he could have a solid year. Running back Josh Jacobs had a productive rookie season last year, and could play a major role in this young offense, with the exception of veteran Jason Witten.
Witten will most likely be a security blanket for Carr on third down situations. The Falcons have not been the best getting off the field on third down, but their improvement in the second half of the season could linger on into this year.
The Falcons defense will have to worry about not getting beat downfield, while also trying to manage to stop the run. If the Raiders are clicking on all cylinders, watch out.
Next to an exciting defense, the Raiders improved their defense as well during the offseason.
They added veterans in the secondary with Prince Amukamara, Damarious Randall, and Lamarcus Joyner. Can the Falcons receivers take advantage of this group? Of course. Julio Jones has a history of getting the best of Amukamara one-on-one.
What may decide this game is if the Raiders can generate pressure on Matt Ryan. They don’t have many playmakers on the defensive line, so the Falcons should be able to keep Ryan clean throughout the game.
This will be a game of two exciting offenses facing off against each other. The Falcons seem to be the more experienced group, so they’ll have the advantage in this game.