We all know last week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers wasn’t the team’s best performance, and the tape speaks for itself. Hopefully the Oakland Raiders can turn things around in Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks, but anything can happen overseas. International games are hard to predict, given the time change, fatigue from travel, and overall environment. It might be a home game on the schedule for the Raiders, but the team will be 5,341 miles away from the Black Hole.
Prior to Sunday’s duel between the Raiders and the ‘Hawks, here are three matchups to keep an eye on.
Raiders linebackers vs. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson is one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the NFL, and keeping him from scrambling out of the pocket is easier said than done. In 2017 Wilson rushed 95 times for 586 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to the 34 touchdowns he accounted for through the air. It’s no secret he’s a dual threat, and the Raiders linebackers will need to monitor his movements for the full 60 minutes Sunday.
Second-year linebacker Marquel Lee has been a bright spot on a Raiders defense that’s struggled in the early going, and has been dubbed by some of his peers as the most-improved player on that side of the ball. Whether it’s Lee or Tahir Whitehead, I imagine one of them will be the rover, and will track the former Super Bowl Champion’s movements. Through five games this season, Wilson has thrown for 1,086 yards, 10 touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions. Wilson rarely makes mistakes with the football, we’ll see how he fairs against the Raiders defense.
Marshawn Lynch vs. Bobby Wagner
Once teammates, now foes.
For four seasons, the duo wore the same uniform, practiced together, and won a Super Bowl together, but things have changed. Lynch is now a member of the Silver and Black, and he’ll line up against Wagner for the first time since leaving Seattle. Lynch is currently ninth in the league in rushing yards (331), and has been one of the most consistent players on offense this season. Wagner is Pro Football Focus’ top-graded linebacker, and run defender with a rating of 91.1. Freeing up running lanes against Wagner will be tough, but Lynch earns tough yards. No matter who is in his way, Beastmode won’t go down without a fight, and I don’t expect him to take it easy against any of his former teammates this Sunday.
Raiders special teams vs. Seahawks special teams
Lynch may be a Raider, but Sebastian Janikowski is now a Seahawk, and I’m still not used to seeing Seabass in another team’s uniform.
So far the former Raider has drilled a 52-yard field goal to help the ‘Hawks hoist a “W”, and converted on 6 of his 9 field goal attempts this season. Head Coach Jon Gruden has emphasized week after week how the Raiders need to put themselves in better field position. The Silver and Black are currently averaging 44.9 yards per punt – good for 20th in the NFL – with rookie punter Johnny Townsend pinning just four inside the 20-yard line.
After having a veteran special teams unit a season ago, the Raiders now have a rookie punter, kicker, and long snapper. There’s a lot of inexperience at the position, but regardless, they’ll need to outperform the savvy vet across The Pond.