Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins: Can Darren McFadden Get Back on Track?

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs against Brandon Carr #39 of the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 7, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010, 4:15 p.m. EST

Line: Even


The 5-5 Miami Dolphins fall victim to playing in the AFC East, where the two best teams in football thus far are four games ahead of the Dolphins. While Playoffs look out of reach at this point, the Dolphins can’t stumble into the end of the season with performances like they had last week, when they laid an egg against the Bears on their home field.

The Oakland Raiders are another 5-5 team, but unlike the Dolphins, they are right in the mix of playoff conversation. The Chiefs are up one game on the Raiders, but have shown they are vulnerable and beatable. The Raiders have the tie breaker over the Chiefs and the whole division may come down to the Week 17 matchup at Arrowhead. The Raiders got spanked last week against the Steelers and showed just how undisciplined they can be.

Keys to the Game

  • Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer may have the size to handle Cameron Wake off the edge, but it is unlikely he will be able to contain him. Wake is simply one of the best in the NFL. With 9.5 sacks this season, Wake quietly goes about his business and terrorizes opposing quarterbacks. Jason Campbell has seen an influx in his attempts—aside from last week—but will need to pull the trigger a bit sooner if he wants to get the ball off at all. Limiting mistakes is going to be crucial for Campbell.
  • Darren McFadden looked miserable last week against Pittsburgh. As a result, so did the Raiders. McFadden is the catalyst behind the entire Raiders offense. When he is in the game, the Raiders look like a completely different team. The Steelers shut him down and the Raiders had nowhere to turn. Luckily for the Raiders, unless they meet up in the playoffs, they won’t see a run defense like that for the rest of the season. The Dolphins have a much more manageable run defense to sift through. Look for McFadden to get back on track this week.
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  • No Brandon Marshall on Sunday will spell "no go" for the Dolphins offense. Marshall is their best weapon and if he in fact does not play, the Dolphins will be forced to go in with either an injured left tackle and injured quarterback combo with no weapons in sight, or backups at those respective positions. The Dolphins offense is entering crisis mode.

Key Matchup

Tyler Thigpen/Chad Henne vs. Raiders Secondary

  • The Dolphins need to make it a point to not force the ball to their receivers. If Marshall is not on the field, every one of their receivers is outmatched. The worst thing they can do is go about their business as though nothing has been altered. They need to run the ball and rely on their defense to try and hold off McFadden. The Dolphins are being forced to revert back to their old ways. It’s time to break out the Wildcat.
  • The Raiders secondary will benefit from facing an erratic quarterback. While it is unlikely that Richard Seymour will assault Tyler Thigpen or Chad Henne—at least I think so—the Raiders defensive line could indulge in a few coverage sacks. This won’t do anything for the confidence of their quarterback.


I’m not sure what the appeal of the Raiders is this season with betting, but I seem to pick them nearly every week. The Dolphins are 4-1 against the spread when they are the away team, but I can’t pick them with the questions their offense poses. McFadden should see 100 yards again this week as the Dolphins enter a state of indifference.

Free NFL Pick: Oakland (Even)

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