THREE KEYS for Raiders Win Today
1. Is Beast Mode gone for good?
Marshawn Lynch has been closer to Least Mode this season, rushing 72 times for 266 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. His highest single-game total this season was 76 yards, coming in Week 1 against Tennessee. Obviously the Raiders didn’t sign Lynch to run for 100 yards week in and week out, but he hasn’t necessarily been the dominant physical force that defined his career before taking a year off, either.
Whether it be the mediocre play of Oakland’s pricey offensive line or Lynch’s inability to break off big runs – his longest this year is for 15 yards – No. 24 leads a rushing attack ranking 26th in the league with 88 yards per game. Miami’s rush defense sits eighth in the NFL, allowing 95.4 yards on the ground per contest. Jalen Richard had been the Raiders’ best rusher statistically, but even he and DeAndre Washington couldn’t get anything going in Lynch’s absence last Sunday against the Bills.
Now that Lynch is back from his one-game suspension, the Raiders hope he can discover some of that old Beast Mode magic to save Oakland’s season before it’s too late.
2. Can Oakland get the Carr to start?
Is it the back? A hangover from his breakout 2016? Something else?
Whatever the reason for Carr’s downfall may be, No. 4 has been nowhere near his MVP-caliber form of a year ago. He’s thrown as many interceptions (six) in this year’s first eight games as he did all last season. He already has three multi-interception games in 2017 after having none in 2016. He seems hesitant to take shots downfield, especially last Sunday against Buffalo.
There have been flashes of the old Carr during this slide, really only against Kansas City though, and the Raiders have to wonder whether their franchise quarterback can save their season by actually playing like a franchise quarterback again. That starts Sunday in Miami, against a team that only allows 211 yards per game in the air.
Carr has only thrown for over 300 twice, one of those coming in last week’s blowout loss.
3. Don’t let ol’ Jay pull off a miracle
Miami quarterback Jay Cutler returns after missing last Thursday’s game against the Ravens with injured ribs. Combine that with the Dolphins’ patchwork offensive line, and Khalil Mack and Co. should have no problem causing havoc in the backfield, right?
The Dolphins rank last in the NFL in total offense, by a lot, with only 252.4 yards of offense per game. They have sufficient receivers in Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker and Kenny Stills, but alas, Cutler runs the show. They also own the league’s second-worst rushing attack, and that was before losing starter Jay Ajayi to the Eagles at this week’s trade deadline.
If Mack, Mario Edwards Jr. and Bruce Irvin can’t pressure Cutler like Buffalo’s offensive line prevented them from doing to Tyrod Taylor, the Raiders will be in trouble. But they should be able to, unless the hampered Miami quarterback drives Oakland deeper into its coffin.