The Oakland Raiders are hoping a shift at the top of their coaching ranks will pay off as they travel to New Orleans on Sunday to take on the struggling 2-3 New Orleans Saints. Al Davis finally did what he said he was going to do for sometime, and that was fire coach Lane Kiffin in what turned into a circus by the time it was said and done. Now new coach Tom Cable has the task of trying to take a team that came close to winning games, and pushing them over the top.
The Siants are smarting after a stunning 30-27 loss to the Vikings on Monday night. They got two punt returns from Reggie Bush, yet could not overcome a blocked FG for a score, and a late Ryan Longwell field goal. They only allowed 44 yards on the ground, but still could not get the job done at home. Now they return home on a short week for the Raiders, a team that can run the ball, but struggle in other areas.
Mistakes plagued the Saints, who had four turnovers, several dropped passes and 11 penalties for 102 yards. They will attack the Raiders with their usual solid offense, with Drew Brees looking for leading pass catcher Reggie Bush (38 grabs) and more down the field threat Devery Henderson. Brees has already thrown for 1673 yards and 9 TD’s on the season. Bush has added 212 yards and one TD on the ground.
The Saints D is ranked 24th, and will have to play as well stopping the run as they did Monday night. The Raiders have players that can run the ball, such as rookie Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. They are averaging 155 yards per game on the ground, good for 3rd in the league. Look for JaMarcus Russell to take some shots on the Saints D, as he has been throwing the ball better the past few weeks.
Oakland is ranked 17th in the league on D, and have been good early in games, but then they give up some big plays (like the last two games to Buffalo and San Diego) and fall late. This is why they are sitting at 1-3 on the season instead of possibly 3-1, and challenging the Broncos for the top spot in the AFC West.
This game is going to be critical to see how much fight both teams have. The Raiders are a group that has taken a beating due to the acts of their owner, but they are a better group this season than in years past. The Saints need a win to build some confidence, and should have better success at home this week than last. Look for New Orleans to have another big day from Bush and co. and come out with a 10-point win.