Oakland Raiders at Arizona
September 26th, 2010 4:15 PM EST
Line: Arizona -4 1/2
Free NFL Predictions of the week.
Yick. If you have to pick one game not to watch this weekend, this one could be it. Each team is 1-1, only because they have had the luxury of playing the Rams. Both teams are surrounded by quarterback controversy. Both teams look below average on both sides of the ball. That being said, somebody has to win this thing.
Keys to the Game
- Bruce Gradkowski is going to be the difference maker. Jason Campbell was brought in to give the Raiders something they craved the entire time Jemarcus Russell was at the helm, leadership. It turns out the Raiders had what they were looking for all along. Gradkowski is poised, accurate, and most importantly, he has the respect of his teammates. The offense gets going when he is in the ball game. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy look as though they could develop into reliable targets for Gradkowski. By putting him in the starting lineup, the Raiders give themselves the best chance to win, as Campbell struggles in the West Coast offense once again.
- Darren McFadden is finally running the ball well. With an average of 24 carries a game, McFadden has become the focal point of the Raider offense. Prior to the last few games, he never lived up to the hype he had coming out of college. With 240 yards in the first two games, people are starting to remember how explosive he once was. Arizona has holes all over their defense. Getting rid of Karlos Dansby has shown its ill effects already. McFadden will have the opportunity to make plays for his team and let Gradkowski come in and manage the game.
- Arizona needs to figure out how to get the ball in Larry Fitzgerald’s hands. Five catches a game just isn’t going to be enough for the Cardinals to win football games. With Boldin out, there is more focus than ever on Fitz. There is also nobody on the roster who has proven they can get the ball to him. With a depleted offense, it is important Fitzgerald puts up numbers like he did during the playoffs on their run to the Super Bowl.
- Watch for the Derek Anderson plug to get pulled. There is no doubt that this game is an audition for Anderson to keep his job. There has been speculation he may not get the start, but rather than throw rookie Max Hall in the fire, Whisenhunt decided to go with his former Pro Bowl QB quarterback.
The losing quarterback will likely have his job in serious jeopardy. This game is going to come down to who is less bad. If I have to pick one, I suppose I will go with the Raiders. The Raiders have gained momentum and the Cardinals are still trying to figure out who they are. The departure of superstars has left their team in an awkward state, and I don’t think they will correct it by this weekend. Raiders win outright.
Free NFL Pick: Oakland +4 1/2