Jeremy Bates, this game is about you. Oakland’s offense is getting a ton of attention this week after racking up 300+ yards on the ground and 59 points. What people are failing to notice is the Raiders defense is still 28th in the NFL against the run, and 28th in the NFL in opposing QB rating at 95.0/game. Only two teams in the NFL are giving 5.0 yards per carry or more, and the Raiders are one of them. Top it off with a 26th-ranked points allowed at over 23 points a game, and it is clear that the Seahawks offense has no excuses.
Bates must prove he is willing to run early and often to keep control of the game. My knuckles and the drywall in my house cannot take any more “creative” 3rd and 1 decisions. Oakland has given up a league-worst 11 rushing plays of 20+ yards, with three of those going for over 40 yards. Marshawn Lynch needs to have over 20 carries in this game, and the team must have over 110 yards rushing for the Seahawks to win.
Matt must make good decisions and test the corner opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. Do not make the Champ Bailey mistake again. Take your chances elsewhere. Deon Butler, Golden Tate and John Carlson will be key. The Raiders have a rookie middle linebacker who is much more of a rugged run defender than a coverage guy. Carlson will get his chances and must make the most of them, something he has yet to do so far this season. This may be a breakout game for Tate if Brandon Stokley can’t go. Cornerback Chris Johnson suffered a concussion against the Broncos and may not play. Their other corner, Stanford Routt, is nothing special. Expect the Seahawks to try and get as many DBs on the field as possible with three and four WR sets. Oakland is middle-of-the-pack in the NFL with 16 sacks, so pass rush shouldn’t be a major problem. Bates and the offense must score at least 23 points to win this game.
Defensively, it is simple. Seattle gave up 113 yards rushing to the Cardinals, the first time an opponent rushed for over 100 yards this season. Oakland’s healthy wide receivers are about as qualified as Max Hall to play in the NFL, and should have a similar effect on the passing game. Few teams have slowed the Raiders rushing attack, but Seattle has the hogs to do it. Brandon Mebane’s health will play a major factor. The Seahawks chances of winning go up dramatically if he can get on the field. Holding the Raiders under 100 yards rushing would almost guarantee a Seahawk victory.
The Raiders offensive line has given up the 3rd-most sacks in the NFL. It will be hard to get the Raiders into situations where the bandit defense can make an appearance. Putting seven defensive backs on the field is just asking for a run. Aaron Curry, therefore, will be key. He should see more reps, and needs to make an impact. With the relative weakness in the passing game, don’t be surprised to see some corner blitzes.
Oakland also leads the league in penalties at almost 10/game. Opponents are getting drawn into their sloppy play by committing over 7/game. False starts and pass interference penalties can’t happen, especially in the red zone.
Seattle enjoys advantages all over the field, but this game will come down to stopping the run on defense and running it on offense. The Beast and The Priest better show up, and Bates better use them.