USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - LEADING OFF - Howard Balzer

An­nounc­ers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

About the Raiders: All seemed right in Oak­land’s world af­ter the pul­sat­ing come­from-be­hind 31-30 vic­tory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Week 7 Thurs­day night game. How­ever, all the good feel­ings dis­si­pated in a 34-14 loss at Buf­falo as the Raiders had four turnovers and the de­fense al­lowed 166 yards rush­ing (4.5 av­er­age) with­out get­ting a sack. Play­ing with­out sus­pended RB Mar

shawn Lynch, the Raiders rushed for 54 yards on 14 at­tempts. QB Derek Carr had 49 pass at­tempts, com­plet­ing 31 for 313 yards, but his passer rat­ing was a mere 71.2. The Raiders opened the game with a 13-play, 81-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead, but the Bills scored the next 27 points. Af­ter that drive, Oak­land’s next seven pos­ses­sions gained 138 yards on 27 plays (5.1 av­er­age). WR Amari Cooper, who had a break­out game against the Chiefs (11 catches, 210 yards, two touch­downs), was quiet again with five re­cep­tions for 48 yards.

About the Dol­phins: Af­ter Thurs­day’s 40-0 loss to Bal­ti­more, coach Adam Gase blis­tered the of­fense, call­ing out team lead­ers and crit­i­ciz­ing of­fen­sive play­ers for “not putting the work in.” Play­ing with QB Matt

Moore be­cause Jay Cut­ler had in­jured ribs, the Dol­phins to­taled 196 yards (3.0 yards per play) with six three-and-outs and never reached the red zone. In 14 pos­ses­sions, they crossed mid­field three times. Moore’s 25 com­ple­tions av­er­aged 7.0 yards. RB Jay Ajayi gained 21 yards on his first carry, then added just 2 yards on his last 12 at­tempts. Af­ter rush­ing for 1,272 yards (4.9 av­er­age) and eight touch­downs last sea­son, Ajayi is av­er­ag­ing 3.4 per rush with 465 yards and no touch­downs. Field po­si­tion av­er­aged the 22-yard line, while Bal­ti­more’s av­er­age drive start was the 35. Mi­ami’s de­fense had no sacks, no take­aways and al­lowed 174 rush­ing yards. Matchup to watch: Raiders DE Khalil Mack vs. Dol­phins’ of­fen­sive line. Mack has 4.5 sacks in eight games, and the team has only 12. Mack has to find a way to pres­sure Cut­ler, who will be back for this game.

Player to watch: Lynch. The bal­ly­hooed sign­ing isn’t pay­ing off. It’s not as if the Raiders were run­ning the ball well be­fore Lynch’s sus­pen­sion. He has 266 yards on 72 at­tempts, an av­er­age of 3.7 per at­tempt. Last sea­son, the Raiders were sixth in the league, av­er­ag­ing 120.1 a game. They are at 88.0 and ranked 26th en­ter­ing Week 9. Num­ber crunch­ing: Mi­nus-6. The Raiders’ turnover dif­fer­en­tial. They have only five take­aways and have coughed up 11 turnovers in eight games. Their plus-16 was tied for the best dif­fer­en­tial in the NFL last sea­son. KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Con­trol the game: That has to be the goal for the Raiders, who en­tered Week 8 with an av­er­age time of pos­ses­sion of 27:54, next to last in the NFL, and were at 24:23 against Buf­falo thanks to 50 pass plays and 14 runs.

2. Score points: That seems pretty ob­vi­ous, but the Raiders have scored 26, 45 and 31 points in their wins and 10, 10, 17, 16 and 14 in their losses. 3. Open up the of­fense: The ques­tion is whether the Dol­phins are ca­pa­ble of do­ing that, es­pe­cially if WR De­Vante Parker can’t play again. Cut­ler’s av­er­age per pass at­tempt is a minis­cule 5.53, and his av­er­age per com­ple­tion is 8.8. 4. Score points: Yes, just like Oak­land. Although the 40-0 loss skews the num­bers, Mi­ami is 4-3 while be­ing outscored 152-92. In their three losses, the Dol­phins have been shut out twice and they scored six points in the other.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.