Many people are pegging this game as the ‘Loser Gets Clowney’ game as whoever falls will supposedly have the inside track on the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft in which South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney is expected to be the top pick.
However, with the Raiders giving the Indianapolis Colts all they could handle last week, maybe it’s a little premature to place the Raiders at the bottom of the heap. Terrelle Pryor impressed many with his performance in Indianapolis nearly leading the Raiders to a stunning upset on the road. This week, Pryor and the Raiders look to build on that performance in their home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Pryor tallied 329 total yards against the Colts and showed exceptional poise in the pocket in only his second career start. He added a passing touchdown but also threw two interceptions showing that his decision making still has lots of room for improvement. The Jaguars defense doesn’t show any major areas for worry. Linebacker Paul Posluszny is very agile and covers sideline to sideline but the secondary and defensive line are average at best.
Despite only giving up 292 yards last week to the Kansas City Chiefs, it had just as much to do with the Chiefs offense than the Jags defense as Alex Smith took no shots downfield and simply checked down the entire game. The Raiders would be wise to look to stretch the field with Denarius Moore and Rod Streater as that would certainly open up lanes for Darren McFadden to take advantage of. Also, expect Marcel Reece to get more than the one touch he received last week. Neither he nor the Raiders were satisfied about that, so expect some screens or other plays to get Reece out of the backfield.
The Raiders defense played exceptionally well in limiting Andrew Luck and the Colts offense, allowing only 274 total yards and only 147 through the air. The Jaguars offense was abysmal last week, failing to record a point as the only points recorded by the Jaguars came on a safety after a punt was snapped out of the back of the endzone. The Jags will be without QB Blaine Gabbert this week meaning Chad Henne will make the start. This may not be a downgrade however, as the Jaguars offense, especially through the air, thrived last season with Henne under center.
The Raiders secondary will have to contend with speedy wideout Cecil Shorts III who was held to only three catches for 40 yards last week, but is always capable of breaking a huge play. The run defense wasn’t quite as successful as the pass defense, and they will need to be on their A-Game as Maurice Jones-Drew is still very capable of doing damage. Linebacker Nick Roach was all over the field last week and expect more of the same. LaMarr Houston will also need to be a force on the line and get to the quarterback as Henne is not mobile in any way.
This game will mark one of the few times that the Raiders are favored this season. As long as the secondary keeps Shorts III from beating them deep, the Jags offense has little other ways to produce points. On the other side, Pryor should have a little more time in the pocket than last week and the threats of Pryor’s running and Moore and Streater’s deep ability should open up some lanes for McFadden. It may not be pretty, but the Raiders should come out victorious in their home opener.