Thursday, October 28, 2010

SEAHAWKS/RAIDERS PREVIEW PART I: What A Seahawks Loss Might Look Like

Guten Morgen from Berlin. Each week I try to take a look at both sides of the upcoming Seahawks game. First, let's explore what a Seahawks loss may look like.

Oakland is coming off a franchise-best 59 points outburst against the Broncos, powered by 328 team rushing yards and four Darren McFadden touchdowns. Quarterback Jason Campbell had a career-best 127.9 passer rating. The Raiders have alternated wins and losses the last four weeks, and after two straight road games, return home where they are 2-1. Leading wide receiver Louis Murphy is likely to miss the game with a bruised lung.

Halloween in Oakland is not much different than any other day. The Seahawks can expect a raucous atmosphere, especially after the hurtin' their team put on the Broncos. The Raiders are a flawed offensive team with two mediocre quarterbacks, and a stable of middling wide receivers. Their most potent passing threat is TE Zack Miller. Luckily for the Raiders, they have some top-shelf running talent. There is little doubt Tom Cable will try to stuff the ball down the Seahawks throats with their 3rd-ranked rushing attack. Both Darren McFadden and Michael Bush can break a game open. Any Seahawks loss will include over 125 yards rushing from the Raiders.

The passing attack is even more limited than normal with Murphy out, so expect to see a heavy dose of Miller and creative ways to get the ball to the backs out of the backfield. Sundays win against the Cardinals was the first game all year the Seahawks have not been gashed by a screen pass. Allowing gimme yards to the Raiders on swing and screen passes would be a major failure, but a loss would certainly feature at least a few big yard-after-catch pass plays.

Oakland has enjoyed some game-changing special teams plays. They blocked a punt against SD, and had a long kickoff return or two. The Seahawks had trouble blocking the Cardinals on field goals, and have become vulnerable all-of-a-sudden on returns. The Raiders offense and defense do not stack up against the Seahawks, so any loss would include at least one key special teams moment in favor of the Raiders.

At 23.6 points allowed/game, the Raiders defense has not stopped many teams. The Seahawks offense has struggled to find any consistency. Expect Nnamdi Asomugha to match-up with Mike Williams and force Matt Hasselbeck to look elsewhere for his yards. The Raiders are probably seeing the reliance on Williams as a great opportunity for them to take away a major part of the Seahawks offense, and they are right. Hasselbeck has struggled with decision-making at times, and Williams getting bottled up could lead to some forced throws and turnovers.

The Raiders are not 59-14 good, but they are confident and playing at home in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Despite a great win in Chicago, and important division-victory against the Cardinals, it would qualify as a surprise if the Seahawks could win two straight road games, and three-in-a-row overall. Intangibles point to a Raiders victory, but it's far from a sure thing.

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