How does one begin talking about an Oakland-Miami game? What story-lines exist that can captivate, enthrall, or even interest? Is there some dormant rivalry? Perhaps the Miami heat — no relation to the NBA Heat, unfortunately — sparks interest? Could it be Oakland’s wretched special teams play? How about revisiting last year’s matchup? How many questions can I ask before I lose my reader entirely?
Rhetorical questions aside, this week’s game represents something of a blank slate for the Raiders. Last year’s blunders appear to be waning, despite Tommy Kelly’s furious attempt to revive them. Their offense, though unable to score, was not as bad as thought. Football Outsiders ranked Oakland’s offense 11th, better than that of the San Diego Chargers. Their offense was derailed by penalties, fumbles, and mistakes of the like, not by ineffectiveness. This is an important distinction. Mistakes are more easily correctable; lack of talent/ability is not. They should have an easier time scoring against a Miami team that allowed 337 yards last week.
Why They’ll Win
Two words: Ryan. Tannehill. Two more words: Is. Awful.
Last week, Tannehill was sacked three times, threw three interceptions, fumbled once, and had four balls knock down at the line of scrimmage. That’s bad: Alex Smith circa 2005 bad. The Raiders’ defense should have no difficulty bottling up Reggie Bush, which means a loss will come at the hands of Tannehill, which means the Raiders should win handily, which means you should start the Raiders defense in your Fantasy Football league.
Why They’ll Lose
Since 1990, the Raiders have won only one game in the state of Florida. They are 1-9. The last time they won, they faced a 2007 Miami Dolphins team that would win only one game that season. In general, the Raiders don’t play well on the East Coast.
Unfortunately, they play a record five times on the East Coast this season, travelling well over 28,000 miles. If they lose Sunday against the Dolphins, we will all be in for a long season.
As one might expect, the power rankings were all over the place. Still, contrary to what I had expected, the Raiders’ ranking was boosted by a few publications.
Who We’re Taking
Oakland Raiders (-1.5) @ Miami Dolphins
Bay Area Sports Guy: In the 1970s this would’ve been the game of the week. Instead, it’s a battle of franchises that haven’t produced evidence in years that they have the foggiest idea what they’re doing. After watching the Raiders bore us to tears on Monday against San Diego, I have a hard time believing they should be a favorite any time they travel to the eastern side of the U.S. — even against a team as bad as Miami. Pick: Dolphins
East Bay Sports Guy: There are plenty of reasons to dislike the Raiders, the least of which being their week 1 performance. The Raiders must make a cross-country trip on a short week, which is obviously problematic. They were also beat handily by a very similar Dolphins team last season. Still, there are even more reasons to dislike Miami. The Dolphins weren’t able to stop the short-area passing attack of the Texans last week, and I don’t think they’ll be able to stop it this week. Pick: Raiders
Bay Area Stats Guy: I have the Dolphins winning this game about 52% of the time and with how the Raiders looked last week and then having to go on the road I feel pretty good about that. The projection model says that the Dolphins will win by a filed goal with the average margin of victory of 1.5 points. Pick: Dolphins
Ruthless Sports Guy: Hopefully the Raiders’ defenders have been watching Hard Knocks and doing their snap count homework. Do I really have to pick against the spread here? I’d rather bet the under. Home dogs cover – that’s all you’re going to get from me. Pick: Dolphins
Bay Area Duck Guy: After losing to the Chargers at home, I don’t have much faith in the Raiders. But they’re playing the Dolphins. Pick: Raiders