Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders
Sunday October 31st, 2010 4:15 PM EST
Line: Oakland -3
It may seem hard to believe, but Pete Carroll has led the Seahawks to first place in their division and a 4-2 record. They travel to the Bay Area to take on the 3-4 Oakland Raiders, who destroyed the Broncos last week by 45 points on the road.
While the Seahawks and Raiders both have shown improvement from last season, the two teams have faced unbelievably easy opponents thus far, making them difficult teams to read.
Keys to the Game
- If the Seahawks want to survive, they have to stop Darren McFadden. McFadden rushed for 165 yards and scored four touchdowns in the game against Denver. Aside from the game in which he left early in due to a hamstring injury, McFadden has rushed for 95 yards or more in every game he has played in this season. Despite missing 2.5 games, McFadden is still the eighth leading rusher in the NFL this year. The Seahawks have made stopping the run a priority this season and rank second in the league in doing so. How the Seahawks fair against McFadden will directly affect the outcome of the game.
- The Seahawks can’t stop the run, but the Raiders can’t throw it either. The Raiders have a trio of quarterbacks, none of which are very effective. Kyle Boller, Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski are all viable candidates for the starting job, but the Raiders won’t see overwhelming success with any of them under center. The Seahawks need to stop the run and force Jason Campbell to make throws down the field. Aside from Zach Miller, the Raiders have receivers who excel at breaking away on deep routes. None of the quarterbacks have a skill set that coincides with their receiving corp, which explains why Miller is the leading receiver on the team. Seattle needs to key on Miller. The Raiders have the potential to create mismatches with inexperienced safeties like Earl Thomas covering Miller. The Seahawks shouldn’t feel vulnerable against the pass unless they lose the tight end in their zone coverage.
- The Raiders have a solid pass defense, so expect them to get a heavy dose of Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch. The running back tandem has the potential to have a huge game, which would do wonders for the Seahawks confidence. Pete Carroll knew he needed another running back to come in who could contribute immediately, and he scored by picking up Marshawn Lynch. Russel Okung looks like he will be a franchise left tackle for years to come, which is a relief due to the departure of Walter Jones. Now would be an opportune time for a young talent like Forsett to emerge.
- Matt Hasselbeck is starting to look like the Matt Hasselbeck of six or seven years ago but if the Seahawks are smart, they will abandon the passing game. Teams like the Chargers have taken it to Nnamdi Asomugha, but the Seahawks don’t have the type of offense to succeed against the Raiders defensive backs. The Raiders are solid at DB and if the Seahawks can get it going on the ground, there is no reason to try to force Hasselbeck to continue throwing the ball. Despite Hasselbeck’s rejuvenated play and Mike Williams having a miraculous turn around, the Seahawks are giving the Raiders an opportunity to succeed if they try to beat them through the air.
I went with the Raiders last week, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the Seahawks are going to drop this one this weekend. Seattle is much better than the Broncos and while I love the steps the Raiders are taking as an organization, I just can’t pick the "Silver and Black" this week.
If the Raiders do win, I can’t see them winning like last week. Seattle is trying to create a cushion by breaking away from the rest of the NFC West.
A small margin of victory at best for the Raiders so I’m going with the Hawks.
Free NFL Pick: Seattle +3