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Eagles schedule preview: The Raiders are coming to town

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Our final opponent preview of the Eagles 2017 season, as the Eagles host the Raiders in Week 16. We’ll take a look at the Eagles next week after the polls close.

Lost: S Nate Allen, CB DJ Hayden, RB Latavius Murray, TE Michael Rivera, LB Malcolm Smith, T Menelik Watson

Added: TE Jared Cook, RB Marshawn Lynch, QB EJ Manuel, T Marshall Newhouse, WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Drafted: CB Gareon Conley, S Obi Melifonwu, DT Eddie Vanderdoes, T David Sharpe, LB Marquel Lee, S Shalom Luani, T Jylan Ware, RB Elijah Hood, DT Treyvon Hester

Why they’ll lose to the Eagles

Every year there are teams that surprise and teams that disappoint. The Raiders seem like a good candidate to disappoint this year. They’ve got big names and put up some nice counting stats, but there are indications they struck a bit of fool’s gold in 2016. Someone has to be the disappointment of 2017, and the Raiders could be it.

Oakland had the 3rd best record in the NFL, but 11th best point differential, which put them (+31) behind the Eagles (+36). Even if you take out their Derek Carr-less season finale, their point differential would have only been 7th best. A whopping 9 of their 12 wins were by a score or less, 5 were by a field goal.

The Raiders passing attack is impressive, but on the ground they weren’t, and their nominal starting running back was retired last year. Behind him is a collection of JAGs.

The Raiders defense is still a work in progress. They finished 20th in points, 26th in yards, 23rd in DVOA. And that was despite being 2nd in the league in turnovers, which is an area teams tend to not play consistently at. Expect the Raiders to have fewer takeaways, which will only put more stress on the defense. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin teamed up for 18 sacks and the Raiders still finished last in sack percentage.

The Raiders have a lot of star power, but nothing behind it. Carr’s end of season injury cost them in the playoffs, but they played most of the regular season with their key players intact. It may not take much for them to unravel.

Why they’ll beat the Eagles

Because the star power they do have makes for a great core, and that wins you games in the NFL. Derek Carr was mostly the same player in 2016 as he was in 2015, which is to say he’s a good QB and at 26 he’s still got room to grow as a QB. There’s reason to believe he can take another step in 2017 on his own, and the Raiders replacing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave could be another improvement. Oakland was one of the best teams at pass protection over the past two years, their commitment to spending a lot of money in the unit paid off. That should continue in 2017, which should neutralize the Eagles’ strength at defensive line.

While the Raiders defense wasn’t good last year, it was young, and they again went heavy on defense early in the draft this year. Their first three picks in the last two years were all defenders, so they should be well stocked. With this game being in Week 16, the defense could have taken a big turn by then, which would go a long way to making up for any slip by the offense. The Raiders might be a strong candidate to disappoint, but they’re also a strong candidate to take a big leap on defense. They retained all their key players and staff, and they have given and will give young players significant playing time. Nothing is guaranteed, but that’s a recipe for success.

It’s probably premature to peg the Raiders as a Super Bowl contender, but with the young talent they have, it’s not unreasonable. This could be the best team the Eagles play all season.

Note that might only interest me: Derek Carr and Carson Wentz are two of, if not the most religious QBs in the league. This game is, perhaps not coincidentally, on Christmas Day.


Who wins the Eagles-Raiders game?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    (374 votes)
  • 51%
    (391 votes)
765 votes total Vote Now

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