The Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars will face off in an early game Sunday. It should come as no surprise that this game is not being saved for later, although it has the potential to be one of the most even games of the NFL’s second week. It is still early in the season, however both of these teams have been at the center of discussion for who will eventually claim the number one overall selection in the 2014 draft. Whoever loses will have a leg up in a race for last place already being called the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes.
Before the regular season kicked off a week ago, the Oakland Raiders were almost unanimously considered to be the worst roster in the NFL by pregame experts. That quickly changed in the eyes of fans everywhere after a surprising effort against the Indianapolis Colts that almost saw them pull off a huge upset.
Jacksonville has taken over the title of worst roster in many minds after a dreadful 28-2 home defeat at the hands of a Kansas City Chiefs team that won just two games a year ago. Not exactly the effort owner Shad Khan had been hoping for.
Oakland on the other hand has reason to be optimistic. Several positives came out of their opening game despite a loss on the record. Terrelle Pryor established himself as a popular fantasy football addition, however his actual game looked quite raw in his second career start.
Although Pryor is perhaps the least-developed passer starting in the NFL, he made up for his lack of passing prowess his scrambling ability. His 112 yard rushing output against the Colts was good enough to set a team record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Not too shabby.
The problem with Pryor’s offense is that it is so basic. NFL coaching staffs are always scheming up new ways to confuse the opposition. That does not appear to be a difficult task when facing Pryor. He essentially ran a one read passing game in week one. If his primary receiver was not open, he would pull the ball down and run rather than looking for his number two option.
Where the Raiders offense looked basic, the Jaguars offense looked dreadful. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has continually failed to show the abilities that made him a first round draft pick just a few years ago. With him under the helm the Jags have struggled to find a rhythm in nearly every game they have played. Against the Chiefs they were stalled out on nearly every drive. It actually took them until the middle of the fourth quarter to cross midfield. Unheard of in today’s NFL.
Maurice Jones-Drew may be one of the better starting running backs in the game today, but when defenses can focus solely on him, he is going to struggle.
Gabbert was hurt in the opening game, paving the way for Chad Henne to start against the Raiders. After taking over the starting role in 2012, the offense began to open up a bit in Jacksonville. Maybe Henne can stretch the field once again against a suspect Raiders secondary, thus enabling MJD to find a bit of running room.
Las Vegas likes the Raiders to play at the level they did against the Colts a week ago, favoring them by six points. A tough spread to cover considering they also don’t expect a ton of offense in this one. The over/under for the game is just 39.
Expect a sloppy, turnover filled game that will be neck and neck throughout. The Jaguars and Raiders are set to square off Sunday in a game in which the loser perhaps stands to gain more than the winner. Jadeveon Clowney is sure to be watching, whoever falls to 0-2 will be the front-runner in terms of where he will be playing next year.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express