Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders head home this weekend after a disappointing loss to the Jets last Sunday. Derek Carr shined in his debut as he went 20 of 32 for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rod Streater and Carr combined for five receptions and 46 yards including a touchdown reception. The chemistry between Carr and Streater is palpable and is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Unfortunately for Carr, the Raider running game didn’t show up at all. The tandem of McFadden and Jones-Drew were only able to muster 26 yards on 13 carries.
If the Raiders want to beat the Texans at home they have to get more production out of their running backs. This might be a tough challenge for the Raiders as the Texans have Pro Bowler J.J. Watt on the field. However with Jadeveon Clowney out there might be a chance to exploit his absence and take it to Whitney Mercilus who entered the league in 2012 as the 26th overall pick. Last week the Texans gave up 131 yards on the ground which ranks them at 23rd against the run in the league so there is light at the end of this tunnel.
Additionally on offense Derek Carr has to open it up and throw the ball deeper down the field. 85% of his passes last week were passes for 10 yards or less. With speedy receivers like Streater, James Jones and Denarius Moore, Carr should be able to launch the ball with relative frequency and find a receiver down field. The Texans have Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, D.J. Swearinger and Kendrick Lewis as the corners and safeties and none of those guys should be able to compete with Moore or Streater on a streak down the field.
Defensively the Raiders have to contain the two Pro Bowlers on the Texans – Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.
Andre Johnson is always a threat on the field as he is a born playmaker and can turn a five yard slant into a 90 yard touchdown run. Last week Johnson was held out of the end zone but he had 93 yards on six catches. The Raiders will likely put up Carlos Rogers against Johnson and should be able to contain him for the first couple yards from scrimmage but once he breaks through the five yard cushion, Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch have to be there for help.
As for Foster, he’s still a premiere back with over 100 yards rushing last week and an average of 3.8 per carry. If that’s not daunting enough, Foster has averaged 186 yards from scrimmage in two games against Oakland. Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith must break down the wall of the Texans defense and get through to tackle Foster or even hurry Ryan Fitzpatrick to give the Raiders a chance in this game.
On paper, the Texans are better than the Raiders both defensively and offensively. The Raiders will have to take chances on both sides of the ball in order to stay in the game early and hold off the Texans in order to get a victory for the Silver & Black.