RAIDERS (3-5) VS. DOLPHINS (4-3)
SUNDAY, 8:30 P.M. ET, HARD ROCK STADIUM, MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. uTV: NBC
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.
TIMOTHY T. LUDWIG, USA TODAY SPOR Raiders’ Khalil Mack