This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
We continue with the Eagles slate of games against the AFC West. Today, Dave previews a game that I bet nearly every Eagles fan has already marked as "W" on the schedule. For the past six years the Oakland Raiders have been arguably the worst team in the NFL. A string of coaches and a slew of top 10 draft picks have done little to change their fortunes. Their 2009 draft was roundly mocked by experts and forecasts for their campaign are not pretty. That said, the team did manage to win 3 of it's final 6 games including a win at Tampa that paved the way for the Eagles to get into the postseason. Could they be a team we should be worried about come week 6?
Dave's full analysis is after the jump.
The Eagles travel to Oakland Coliseum to take on the Raiders Sunday, October 18th in a 4:05 P.M. (EST) contest. This will be the Birds first of two trips to the West Coast this season in this week six match-up. The second will be at San Diego later in the year. Philadelphia will most likely come into this game as a heavy road favorite given the current state of this Raider franchise. Oakland has not had a winning season since 2002 and in the last six years has never won more than five games. Another thing in Philadelphia’s favor is that the Eagles are a perfect 5-0 playing on the West Coast, dating all the way back to 2002.
The Raiders got off to a 1-4 start last year; costing head coach Lane Kiffen his job. The Raiders named offensive line coach, Tom Cable interim coach and then promoted him to head coach after finishing with a 4-8 record. One of the biggest decisions Cable is facing this year is who will be his starting quarterback. Third year player JaMarcus Russell is currently listed as the starter, but he has yet to really prove he can become a big time quarterback in this league. With him behind center in 2008, the Raiders offense finished 29th in points per game with 16.4, 29th in total yards per game with 272, and dead last in passing yards with 148 per game. As an insurance policy for Russell, the Raiders signed eleven year veteran Jeff Garcia to a one year contract. I fully expect the former San Francisco and Philly quarterback to be starting by the time this game is played. Garcia gives them the best chance to win right now, as Russell can be summed up as an experiment at best.
Defensively the Raiders weren’t much better. They gave up an average of 24 points and 360 total yards per game. They were ranked last (32nd) against the run which should add up to a big day for RB Brian Westbrook. They recently signed former Dallas DE Greg Ellis to try and bolster the d- line, but I doubt it will be enough to prevent the Eagles from moving the ball up and down the field at will.
Looking at their off season acquisitions, including a real head scratcher in taking Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick, I do not see a whole lot of improvement with this team. Other than Garcia, they haven’t really addressed their most pressing needs on either side of the ball. You have to wonder what team owner, Al Davis has been thinking lately in his efforts to improve a consistently bad team. I never like to be too over confident because of the "any given Sunday" nature of this game, but I would feel really comfortable chalking this game up in the win column for the Birds.