We took to social media earlier this week to find out what was on your mind as the Raiders get ready to take on the Lions. You asked, Raiders.com Senior Editor Jerry Knaak answered.
From Mario S: The obvious question here – how can the Raiders hope to stop Megatron this week?
JK: Solid, fundamentally sound defense. I think the pass rush will be a big factor this week. If the Raiders can make Matthew Stafford hold the ball and make him uncomfortable in the pocket with good, initial coverage off the line, the Raiders should be able to mitigate Calvin Johnson's impact. He'll get his, the Raiders just have to keep him from wrecking the game. He has 54 catches for 740 yards and 3 scores on the season. The Raiders sacked Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater four times last week. They came close many other times.
From Tommy B: What defensive changes will KNJ make now that Oakland is without Aldon Smith?
JK: Defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., and Head Coach Jack Del Rio did not want to give away any game plan details, however, I'd expect Benson Mayowa to have a bigger role moving forward. Defensive end Shelby Harris was signed to the active roster from the practice squad. If he is active Sunday, I'd expect him to have a good-sized role. The Raiders will miss Aldon Smith, but with the emergence of Mario Edwards Jr, the Raiders should be able to put together a good rotation of defensive linemen.
From Taylor N: Are we close to finding a punt returner? It seems like we keep signing players but don't even give them a chance in games.
JK: TJ Carrie is quite capable in this role, but he has been battling some injuries. Amari Cooper has been used back there as well. The Raiders added wide receiver Jeremy Ross, who has some punt return experience, to the practice squad this week.
From Corey J: What would it take for the Raiders to try out some of the practice squad corners on gameday or make a guy like Dexter McDonald active? Or if we're sticking with the same guys, could zone coverage instead of man-to-man be a solution?
JK: The Raiders dress the players on game day they think will give them the best chance to win. The numbers active at different positions are dictated by many different factors, most notably injuries and needed depth. SaQwan Edwards is the only corner on the practice squad.
From Jason D**: Do you think playing in a dome favors either team in particular?
JK: This has the potential to be a high-scoring shootout. Both teams can put the ball in the air and get chunks of yardage that way. I don't think it favors either team, I think it favors both teams. The weather won't be a factor. Look for Raiders wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to get loose for some yards after the catch.
From Erica F: Who are the vocal leaders on this team? We could use some leadership to help pull out all of these close games.
JK: Charles Woodson for one. Derek Carr as well. The Raiders seem to turning the corner in a lot of ways. They've already won mores game this year than all of last year. You are correct, that is the next step for this team – winning these close games. As I have written before, eliminating critical turnovers in these crucial situations will go a long way in getting over that hump.
From Bob T: How important is this game in the scope of the rest of the season?
JK: They are all important, but this has to be considered a turning point in the season. At 4-5, and with a log jam in the AFC Wild Card picture at 5-4 and 4-5, the Raiders have to have this game to get back in the mix. The Bills and Jets are 5-4, Pittsburgh is 6-4, Indianapolis and Houston are 4-5, Jacksonville improved to 4-6, and now Kansas City is 4-5. I'd say this game is crucial. The Raiders also need to snap this two-game losing streak they're on.
From Paul A**: With Cooper, Crabtree, Holmes, and Walford all finding the end zone lately, should the Raiders pass almost exclusively?
JK: Good teams can run the ball. I don't care what kind of exotic offense you run, it comes down to being able to run the ball in the NFL. Stopping the run is a big factor too. I believe you pass to score points, and run the ball to close games out. Running the ball to set up play-action passing is a crucial part of the game.
From Jim G: What is the biggest factor that is going to decide if this team can fight back into postseason contention or fall by the wayside?
JK: Grit and determination. The Raiders have played seven very close games, and one that was blown open late in the fourth quarter. The 2015 Raiders team has success when it starts fast and holds onto a large lead. This team must play with a lead. That will be key, starting fast.
From Ashley K: The Detroit secondary is one of the worst in the league – can the Raiders score over 40 this week?
JK: I don't know about 40, the Lions just held the Green Bay Packers to 16 points in Green Bay. Detroit is 23rd in the NFL in pass defense, while the Raiders are 31st. Detroit is allowing 29 points per game, while the Raiders give up 26.8.The Lions have recorded just four interceptions on the year, but, they have 23 sacks. I do think this is going to be a high scoring game, but it's a big mistake to underestimate teams in the NFL. On any given Sunday…