Seeking a 6-0 start, Atlanta will host the 1-3 Raiders. Oakland is coming off a bye following a blowout loss in Denver. The Raiders have just 1 win this year, but it did come against a solid Pittsburgh team. Their three losses have all come by 8 points or more this season. The bye week may be just what they needed, because they needed something.
Their offense is headlined by Darren McFadden. Coming into the season, he was touted as one of the most talented all around backs in the league, but struggled to stay healthy. This year he has been able to stay on the field, but at a much less effective level. So much so that the Raiders are last in the NFL in rushing. They have averaged just 60 yards per game on the ground. That figures to change in Atlanta. The Falcons have given up a good chunk of yards on the ground, and if they don’t take a big lead early, Oakland will likely pound the run. Carson Palmer has also struggled at QB. They are currently 12th in the league in passing offense, but Palmer has thrown just 5 TD passes so far this season. It doesn’t help that his receiver corps have been decimated this year. Jacoby Ford is out for the year, and Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked out in that win over Pittsburgh. The good news is that Heyward-Bey looks to be able to play in this contest, and should start across Denarius Moore. Not exactly an extremely intimidating WR duo, but better than what Carson Palmer has been working with.
The defense in Oakland really hasn’t been able to stop anything. They are in the bottom third in the league in both passing and rushing defense. They gave up 22 points to San Diego to start the year, and since they have given up more than 30 each game. Atlanta is arguably the best offense they have faced this year. This could be a recipe for disaster for Oakland. I don’t expect them to cure their defensive woes in time for this game, especially with Matt Ryan throwing to Jones and White all day long. I expect Atlanta to win, and pretty big as they improve to 6-0.