Oakland Raiders Week 9 Matchup Breakdown

Oakland Raiders vs Miami Dolphins
11/5/17 @ 1:00pm EST

The Oakland Raiders’ offense is in search of their real identity. Oakland coach Jack Del Rio said earlier this week, that it must figure out who is quickly after a disappointing first half of the season. Oakland is 3-5 after going 12-4 last season. Del Rio has mentioned several times that Oakland needs it’s “mojo” back.

It starts Sunday night at Miami with quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Amari Cooper. Carr and Cooper are representative of Oakalnd’s offensive problems. Both Carr and Cooper snapped out of a month-long slump in week 7 as the Raiders beat Kansas City, 31-30.

Yet, both player’s production dipped in a 34-14 loss at Buffalo in Week 8. For Oakland’s offense, it all starts with snap counts. The Raiders have the fees offensive snaps in the NFL. It’s because they cannot sustain drives. Against Kansas City, Oakland had snap-count success with 82. However, that number fell to 65 against the Bills.

This offense is best when Cooper is playing well. It just hasn’t happened enough. Cooper is on pace for 808 yards receiving. He broke the 1,000-yard barrier in both of his previous NFL season. Oakland is trying to get Cooper going. He was targeted 26 times in Week 2-6. However, he was targeted 29 times in the past two weeks. Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17

Miami has the 11th ranked pass defense in the NFL. It is allowing 210.9 yards a game in the air. Still, watch for Oakland to be aggressive with Carr getting the ball to Cooper early. That would open the rest of the passing game. When Cooper is right, fellow receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Jared Cook are more dangerous. Like Cooper, Crabtree was targeted 10 times at Buffalo. Cook’s target rate has been consistent. It has been between 5-8 targets a game all but one game this season.

The Raiders’ running game has been uneven this season. One of the problems is it can’t find a rhythm. In four of Oakalnd’s five losses they have been trailing by double digits in the second half. So, the run has been abandoned. Oakland needs to establish the run early Miami, but it won’t be easy. Miami is ranked No. 8 in the NFL against the run and is allowing just 95.4 yards a game.

Oakland is getting starting tailback Marshawn Lynch back this week after his one-game NFL suspension ended. Lynch hasn’t been productive since Week 1. Still, he should get the first opportunity for snaps. Without Lynch, Oakland’s DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard had a combined 47 yards on 11 carries. They did, however, combined for 13 catches for 97 yards and a Washington touchdown against the Bills. Ideally, Lynch will be able to produce on first down and Carr can dink-and-dunk to Washington and Richard to keep Miami off balance. Take a look at the current Raiders depth chart at, https://www.lineups.com/nfl/depth-charts/2017/oakland-raiders

The Raiders are probably not a great bet offensively because of their recent history sans the explosion against Kansas City. Even though the Dolphins gave up 40 points to Baltimore in Week 8, this may not be a great offensive matchup for Oakland. The Raiders have a look of an offense that bettors may want to stay away from until they prove for a couple of weeks that they, are indeed out of their slump, which has plagued them for five of the past six weeks. Oakland is averaging just 13 points in its five losses. Thus, it currently can’t be trusted.

Still, Oakland may not have to score much at Miami. The Dolphins’ offense has been dreadful. The hope is Jay Cutler will be ready to return after sitting out Week 8 with a ribs’ injury. It would be naive to say Cutler is not an upgrade over his backup Matt Moore. But the truth is Cutler is a low-level starter.

Oakland’s defense is susceptible and the secondary is banged up. Starting cornerback David Amerson (foot) and safety Karl Joseph (groin) did not play. It is too early to tell if they will be back against the Dolphins.

The Raiders won’t have to game plan for Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins traded the running back to the Eagles on Tuesday morning. Instead, Oakland will have to contend with Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. Both will obviously get an increased work load with Ajayi gone. Williams was averaging 11.7 snaps game while Drake was getting 6.4 snaps a game. Both should more than double now with Ajayi in Philly.

Oakland is bend-don’t-break on defense. With most of these offenses having struggles, the better defense could win this game, That nod may go to the Dolphins in what may be a low-scoring game. Check out https://www.lineups.com/nfl/matchups/2017/11-5/oak-raiders-mia-dolphins for more info on this game.

Bill Williamson has been covering the NFL for 21 straight seasons. He has been a newspaper beat writer in four NFL cities and he spent eight years covering the league at ESPN.

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