It’s the day before game day, which means it’s time for my weekly predictions.
In Week 2, the Raiders will defeat the New Orleans Saints. Here’s why:
Wide Receiver Michael Thomas is ruled OUT
Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was ruled out earlier this week because of an ankle injury. The go-to wide receiver for quarterback Drew Brees, Thomas caught 149 passes for 1,725 yards last season. He led the NFL in both categories.
Instead, the Saints will be dependent on guys like tight end Jared Cook, a former Raider, and running backs Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara.
While Thomas was found only three times for 17 receiving yards in Week 1 against the Buccaneers, his counterparts Emmanuel Sanders and Taysom Hill both had under 15 yards receiving. The Saints offense lies in their short and mid-range game but regardless, losing a weapon like Thomas hurts.
Defending the short game
If we look at the stats and the Saints' Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans primarily focused on its short game.
Murray ran for 48 yards in 15 carries and Kamara managed only 16 yards in 12 caries.
On the receiving side of things, Cook caught five passes for 80 yards while Kamara caught five for 51 yards.
As stated above, the wide receivers were targeted a couple of times as well, but did not produce any major stats other than the Sanders touchdown.
What do these numbers say?
Defend the short game and force Brees to throw down the field. He’s 41, doesn’t have the stamina he once had and he struggles to throw longer passes.
This duty also needs to be done on the defensive line by applying pressure to Brees in the pocket.
Offensive Line must stay sharp
As for the Saints defense, there were 58 total team tackles. Of them, 45 were solo tackles including three sacks.
The major point here is that everyone on the Saints can defend and tackle. In order to win, quarterback Derek Carr must be protected to the highest degree possible.
Again, we’re talking about guys like guard Richie Incognito and center Rodney Hudson protecting the inside pocket so Carr has plenty of time to throw the football.
The Raiders avoided a sack last week. They need to do that again and make that a norm.
Prediction: 35-28 Raiders
I personally think we’re looking at an offensive shootout. With that said, I believe the Silver and Black will find their footing, much like they did in the second half against the Carolina Panthers and hold on to win by one possession.
The Raiders have the tools to defeat the Saints. The question now is if the Raiders can execute.
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Taysom Hill will be the difference maker tonight
What’s Hondo’s predictions? Wondering if you two have the same idea?
Hikaru, you and Hondo are doing terrific here.