The Oakland Raiders host the Philadelphia Eagles at O.co Coliseum in 2013 Week 9 action. The Raiders last faced the Eagles in 2009 at home and pulled out a 13-9 victory. The overall regular season series is tied 5-5.
The most notable match-up between the Silver and Black and Philadelphia took place on January 25, 1981, when they faced each other in Super Bowl XV. The Raiders, led by QB Jim Plunkett, went on to secure their second Super Bowl Championship 27-10.
Now, many years later, the two squads face each other, the Raiders with a 3-4 record and the Eagles with a 3-5 record.
"This week, obviously we feel great about having an opportunity to get back out in front of the home crowd," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "I thought the atmosphere last week was outstanding. I would expect another very good atmosphere to play football in. We've got a tough opponent coming in here."
The Eagles are coached by former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, who runs a fast-paced spread offense. This week, their offense will be led by QB Nick Foles, in his second year out of the University of Arizona. "He presents some challenges as a quarterback that can throw the football and understands what they're trying to do in the offense," said Coach Allen.
The Raiders defense has noticed the intelligence of the young quarterback. "Nick Foles, he's young, but he's a smart guy. He's not your young quarterback. He's smart and in playing in that system you have to be because there's so many different checks and it goes so fast," said DT Daniel Muir. "You have to be able to think fast and he does that well."
The defense will need to be conditioned and ready to play without huddles, as well as be prepared to make tackles anywhere on the field. "They do some things from a tempo standpoint that make it difficult on you," said Coach Allen. "They do some things where the concept of the offense is really to spread the defense out and get their playmakers in space. Being a great space tackling team will be critical in this game. They have some playmakers they can get the ball to in space. I think it's a little bit of what they do schematically and just their ability with their playmakers."
One of the Eagles biggest weapons is RB LeSean McCoy, who leads the NFL in rushing yards through Week 8 of the season. "He's a good back. I've been playing him since college when he was at Pitt and he's a good back," said LB Sio Moore, who notched 1.5 sacks and was named Rookie of the Week for his efforts against Pittsburgh. "He's elusive. Obviously, as everybody can see, you really have to bring more than one hat to him. You really have to get him because once he gets rolling, he can do damage. As long as we take care of what we do and control how we play ball, we'll be fine."
McCoy has recorded 733 yards in eight games. "Shady McCoy, he's unreal," said Muir. "If you watch him on film, his change of direction…it's amazing to watch it. We definitely have a challenge ahead of us. Gang tackling is key in this game. One guy has to get to him and then the whole rally has to get there. We have to really gang tackle and pile up on this guy."
Run defense will be key against the second-ranked rushing offense in the NFL. "What this team does is they do a good job of being balanced running and passing. This is a running offense. That's what people forget," said Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver. "When an offense goes fast people think that they're necessarily throwing the ball because you picture Peyton Manning, but this is a team that wants balance. They want to take whatever is there based off your looks, get positive yard, get on the ball quick and do it again. The keys are making sure we're where we want to be in the run game, not where they want us to be."
The defense also wants to dictate the pace of the game. "They run a fast offense and they do a lot on offense to try to get your exhausted and out of place," said Moore. "We have to do what we do on defense to dictate the game; we can't let them dictate the game on us."
That pace will also be set by a speedy group of Eagles receivers. "They've got solid receivers. DeSean Jackson is another one of the homerun threats that they have," said Coach Allen. "They have a lot of guys with a lot of speed that can create a lot of big plays and do a good job up front on offense, both in the run game and in protection."
The Eagles top running back knows that this week will be a challenge facing a Raiders defense that is the only team in the league not to give up a run over 19 yards. "I'll tell you what, it seems like they all have a big motor; they know who they are. They all work hard for the ball," said McCoy. "They're a big athletic group, they play well together. It's going to be a tough game. They play extremely well against the run, I'm curious to see what happens."
The Raiders defense is getting the respect they have worked for throughout the first half of the season. "It's a very well-coached group. When they get into their nickel and dime packages, they do a really good job and can present some problems," said Coach Kelly. "When you have a guy like Charles Woodson back there or Tracy Porter – guys that I think a highly of and are intelligent football players - they do a great job in disguise. They do a good job of showing you one thing and then doing something else, getting their speed guys to blitz. They have some other really good players with Lamarr Houston and Nick Roach. It's a pretty good package that they have to rush the passer, so we have to be ready and be aware of it."
The Raiders defense notched five sacks, 11 tackles for loss and six passes defensed in Week 8. They look to continue that success this week. "With the coaches we have putting us in the positions that they put us in, they put us in position to make plays," said Muir. "With the guys that we have, the athletic guys we have that can run and can move and are powerful and this defense, it works for us."
The defense finished what the offense started last Sunday. QB Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage propelled the Raiders to an early lead, and the defense held the Steelers to three points through three quarters. The Raiders offense wants to bring the same spark they started last week with to the entirety of the Eagles game.
"Defensively, they're a big, physical front," explained Coach Allen. "They've got two inside backers that are really fast and athletic and instinctive. They're big at outside linebacker position. They've got a couple corners that are big, physical corners that can really cover."
The Eagles defense, most notably LB Connor Barwin, present some challenges for the Raiders offense this week. "Barwin on the edge, he's their guy that creates pressure. Like I told the Philadelphia media, I just think they have a lot of guys on the team that are very competitive and love to play the game of football," said Pryor. "Like I told them, anytime you get a chance to get on the field, with a team that loves football like our crew does, like the team we have here, you have to always be on edge. You have to bring your A game and that's what comes to mind about the Philadelphia Eagles defense."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson has been preparing his troops for a multi-look Eagles defense. "We've had to script our plays this week to the different fronts we may see against this defense," said Coach Olson. "They're certainly a solid front seven, a very good linebacking crew and a good rusher. Connor Barwin does some things that create some issues and some matchup problems, we'll have to be aware of that."
C Stefen Wisniewski, who, back from an injury, helped the offense score three rushing touchdowns against the Steelers, expects a challenge from Philadelphia's defensive line and linebackers. "They're a tough defense," said Wisniewski. "They have some talented guys, some pass rushers – Barwin on the edge and Trent Cole. So some good pass rushers and some good linebackers. They give you a lot of looks too, crazy blitzes that we have to be ready for."
The Raiders offense wants to establish the run to create more opportunities in the passing game. "It just felt great to go out there and get the run game going," said RB Darren McFadden on a successful rushing attack against the Steelers. "The run game is a lot better than what we've been putting on film lately, but being able to go out there and get it going is just a great feeling."
"Just keep going hard and grinding," said McFadden when discussing how to be successful facing the Eagles. "Every day we're going out here and grinding hard in practice every day and the line has been clicking great, so it's just something that is a matter of hitting the holes when we're out there."
McFadden will have to contend with Barwin throughout the game. "They have a good solid defense. Those guys out there are flying around, getting to the ball, so we have to just be on top of everything and know what we're doing when we're out there," said the veteran running back.
The skill of the Raiders offense, particularly Pryor, has not been lost on Coach Kelly and the Eagles squad. "Big, athletic, moves extremely well for an athlete of that size. I know Terrelle really well. I tried to recruit him out of high school. He looks like a basketball player, but he can run – obviously the 93-yard touchdown run jumps out at you," said Coach Kelly. "They're doing a lot more things with him as a passer. He seems like he wants to stay in the pocket and throw the ball. He's that package that you worry about as a defensive group because he can throw it, but he can also tuck it down and make some really good plays. He's obviously a very big threat, and we need to make sure we contain him."
This week's match-up in front of a sold-out Raiders crowd will showcase talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Raiders players expect a loud, passionate Coliseum Sunday.
"Any time you can get your crowd into it, it's always a big plus for us," said McFadden. "Those guys get us going a whole lot just being able to hear the crowd roar and knowing we're up like we were, it's always a great feeling."
Moore is no stranger to getting the Black Hole fired up. "I play with a lot of juice, a lot of energy, that's how Coach Tarver tells me to how to play and that's how I've always played," said Moore. "I try to go out there with that same thing and it's a great opportunity to be back in front of them another week and try to get a win."