The anticipated Monday night showdown is upon us, as the Oakland Raiders have had two weeks to prepare for their Week 11 matchup against the Houston Texans. Head coach Jack Del Rio will have a steady game plan to go off of, which will balance the duties of quarterback Derek Carr and running back Latavius Murray.
Del Rio and the roster have reiterated a business-like approach, while offensive lineman Donald Penn understands that this team hasn’t even reached their full potential yet. The success of the Raiders has caught this league off guard, as the black and silver attempt to regain sole possession of the AFC West.
They will face off against a Texans’ team that has been confusing to watch. The offense, under quarterback Brock Osweiler, has shown inconsistent results, while running back Lamar Miller has battled injuries. On the defense side of the ball, the team lost Pro Bowler J.J. Watt, but continued on right where they left off.
Coming into the matchup, the Texans own the fourth best defense in the league, allowing only 317.4 yards per game. To the contrary, their offense ranks 30th, chalking up only 308.8 yards per game.
To the dismay of the Raiders, the exact opposite seems to be true, although their defense is steadily improving. Coming into Week 11, the Raiders own the fifth best offense, averaging 401.1 yards per game. On the other hand, their defense ranks 29th, giving up a total of 398 yards per game.
The Raiders rushing attack has led the way this season, as the healthy return of Murray has been a catalyst. With the fourth best rushing attack (127.8 YPG) and sixth best passing attack (273.3 YPG), Carr and Murray rank as one of the elite duos in the NFL.
On the season, Carr has racked up 2505 passing yards, along with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The offensive line has done a magnificent job, as Carr has been sacked a league-low 11 times. His rating of 99.1 and QBR of 62.8 are on pace for career highs, as he is proving to be a MVP candidate in a tight race.
Murray, who was dealing with a nagging turf toe injury, seems to have recovered quite nicely. After a limited workload in his first two games back, he burst on the scene against the Denver Broncos and their elite rushing defense.
In his three games back, he has taken 49 rushes for 221 yards (4.51 yards per carry), with five touchdowns in that span. His emergence as the bonafide goal-line option has increasingly helped ease the pressure off of Carr, especially after his three one-yard touchdowns against the Broncos.
The Texans spent a good chunk of their offseason money on signing Osweiler, a deal which simply hasn’t panned out. Entering Week 11, the Texans have the worst passing offense in the league (32nd-187.3 YPG), while the running game has salvaged their season (5th-121.4 YPG).
Del Rio’s unit is on a three-game winning streak, as the team has grown to expect success. Carr credited Del Rio for implementing a culture change with the team, as certain players feel something special with this tight knit group.
Estadio Azteca, of Mexico City, should be rocking on Monday night, as the game has been sold out for quite some time. As a part of the NFL’s attempt to expand outside of the United States, Mexico City will provide a lively and loud atmosphere for both teams.