An exclusive look at the Raiders as they leave for their Week 6 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in London.
Hello, from the other side of the world.
England counts as the other side of the world, right?
Anyway, after a long, transatlantic flight, the Oakland Raiders have landed in London in advance of their Week 6 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
While the team is indeed abroad for the next few days, make no mistake about it, this is a business trip for the Silver and Black.
Kickoff is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. (California time); here are six things you should be watching when the Raiders and Seahawks kick off at Wembley Stadium.
1. Who starts fast?
Look, both teams have traveled around the world – literally – ahead of Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium.
That said, the respective teams have taken different approaches to their journey to Europe – the Seahawks left Wednesday, while Head Coach Jon Gruden’s team flew late night Thursday – but regardless, the travel time will wear on both sides.
Last week’s outing in Los Angeles aside, the Silver and Black have enjoyed offensive success in the early goings of a majority of their other games, and they’d be well served to replicate that type of effort Sunday.
Putting up points early is always beneficial, so I’ll be looking to see if the Raiders strike first at Wembley.
2. Does Russell Wilson make plays…. With his legs?
When you think of prototypical “dual-threat” quarterbacks, Russell Wilson is probably the first guy you think about, right? Well, if he’s not the first, he’s certainly in the top two or three signal-callers in that conversation.
Wilson has made a career out of extending plays, seemingly making an insane “did he really do that” play at least once or twice per game, so keeping No. 3 contained – or at least somewhat contained – will be crucial at Wembley Stadium.
I asked Daryl Worley earlier this week what the key to limiting Russell Wilson was, and he said that it was actually watching the wide receivers when Wilson gets out of the pocket and starts making moves.
Keeping the Super Bowl champ in the pocket is easier said than done, but keep an eye on how the Raiders defense handles him.
3. Speaking of moving the chains on the ground…
If the Raiders want to return to the good ole’ United States of America with a “W,” it’s going to be crucial they limit the Seahawks on the ground.
Just a week ago, Pete Carroll’s group tallied nearly 200 rushing yards against a really good Los Angeles Rams defense, and while the ‘Hawks ultimately lost that Week 5 tilt, they showed – in a big way – that they don’t need to solely rely on Russell Wilson’s arm to move the chains.
Entering the international clash with the Raiders at Wembley, Seattle ranks eighth in the league in rushing (122.4 YPG), so making the Seahawks one dimensional in their offensive attack would be a huge plus for Paul Guenther’s group.
4. How does Carr bounce back?
Look, I’m not willing to read too much into Derek Carr’s performance last week in Los Angeles.
Did the Chargers get the best of D.C. and the Raiders offense Week 5 at StubHub Center? I think that’s fair to say, but one game won’t define No. 4’s season.
Although his eight interceptions are still the most in the league, Carr still ranks fifth in the NFL with 1,641 passing yards, and has shown that when he’s rocking, there aren’t many quarterbacks in the league who sling the ball better than he does.
Throughout his career as a Raider, Carr has seldom had back-to-back rough outings, so I’m excited to see how he responds Sunday.
The Seattle defense – while it may no longer be the vaunted “Legion of Boom” – is still full of playmakers, so Carr is going to be tested, no doubt about that.
5. Feed. The. Beast.
Just like with Carr, I’m not really going to put too much stock into Marshawn Lynch’s performance in Los Angeles.
While “The Beast” did get a few touches in the early goings, the Raiders were down much of the game, and if you’re staring up at a sizable deficit, you just can’t pound the rock, it’s as simple as that.
Let’s not forget though, that headed into last week’s game, Lynch was running the ball likely as well as he has since coming out of retirement and was actually towards the top of the entire league in rushing yards.
The Raiders want to establish a presence, and an identity at the line of scrimmage, and one of the best ways to do that is to give No. 24 the ball and let him do his thing.
Throw in the fact that Sunday will be the first time Marshawn has gone up against his old squad, and I think the veteran running back will be just a tad bit hungrier than usual.
You think The Beast will be motivated to put on a good show? I sure do.
6. Who wins the kicking battle?
As our resident special teams advocate, I’d be remiss not to mention the kickers.
On one end of the spectrum we have Matt McCrane, the Raiders rookie who will make his third NFL appearance as a Sunday afternoon, and on the other, we have our old pal Sebastian Janikowski, who has been kicking in the league, since young Mr. McCrane was just 16 years old.
I must admit that it’ll be a little bit funky seeing Seabass in another jersey, but there won’t be any love lost come game time.
It’ll be an age-old battle between the young upstart, and the wily veteran Sunday afternoon, so keep an eye on which of the two men makes the most of their respective opportunities.
So many NFL games come down to who makes their field goals, let’s see if Sunday’s matchup at Wembley falls into that category.