Each week, Raiders.com Senior Editor Jerry Knaak poses five questions heading into that week's matchup. Here are these week's queries as the Raiders head to Detroit to take on the Lions.
1. Will the Raiders score at least 27 points?
So far the Raiders are 4-1 this season when they score 27 points or more, with the only loss coming in the 38-35 shootout with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Lions are giving up 29 points per game.
2. Will the Raiders be able to protect quarterback Derek Carr?
The Detroit Lions have recorded 23 sacks, with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah leading the way with 7. The Raiders allowed two sacks to the Vikings last week as Tony Bergstrom filled in admirably at center for the injured Rodney Hudson. Carr has only been sacked 10 times so far this season.
- Who will take charge on defense?
The Raiders have given up 30 or more points the past two weeks, and the run defense has faltered. The Raiders sacked Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater four times after getting to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just once the week before. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been sacked 22 times so far this season. The Raiders lost Aldon Smith to suspension, so other players will have to step into the breach. Linebacker Malcolm Smith has emerged as a leader on defense and safety Charles Woodson is tied for the NFL-lead with 5 interceptions. The Raiders are still searching for their defensive identity and need other players to step up.
4. How will turnovers factor into this game?
When the Raiders have won this season, they have not turned the ball over. When they have lost, they've lost the turnover battle, or turned it over at the worst possible moment. Quarterback Derek Carr's two interceptions last week didn't cost the Raiders the game, but they didn't help either. The Lions are -10 when it comes to turnovers as quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 12 interceptions. The Raiders are -1 so far this season.
5. Will the Raiders get off to a fast start?
The Raiders beat the Chargers and Jets handily by jumping out to very fast starts and building large early leads. They built a big lead in their win against Cleveland, although the Browns did have a chance to tie it late in the game. After a 20-20 halftime tie, the Raiders relinquished a 30-20 lead and came back in the 4th quarter to beat Baltimore. The offense got off to a quick start against Pittsburgh in what turned out to be a seesaw battle the Steelers won on a last-second field goal. My point is, the Raiders need to jump out to a quick start on offense, get some early stops on defense, and keep the foot on the gas.