After Sunday night’s heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Cowboys (folded paper, fumble touchback), the Raiders sit at 6-8 and practically out of contention . Outside of a miracle, Oakland will be playing for pride and experience these next two weeks. Unfortunately, this weekend’s matchup will feature the NFL’s best record and arguably the league’s most complete team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jack Del Rio and company travel east for a Monday Night/Christmas primetime game against the 12-2 Eagles. After losing MVP candidate Carson Wentz two weeks ago, Nick Foles stepped right in last week against the Giants and threw for four touchdowns in the Eagles 34-29 victory. Moreover, for Raiders fans who remember 2013, Foles destroyed Oakland in week 9 of that season for 406 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
If the Raiders want to avoid a similar game from Foles and outcome (lost 49-20), Oakland needs to accomplish these two keys.
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One encouraging sign for the Raiders defense is the amount of pressure Defensive Coordinator John Pagano creates. Sack totals rose in the last four weeks. Additionally, the play from Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack recently created a new dynamic. Irvin and Mack combined for 10 sacks the last four weeks. If Oakland has any chance against this talented team, it will come from their star players on defense getting to Foles. The Giants enjoyed success getting to the Eagles quarterback last week. Foles only completed one of his four passes over 25 yards. Coupled with 2/6 on throws outside hashes 10 yards deep. A lot of that had to do with people in his face disrupting his timing on passes.
Avoid another first half slump
In the last two weeks, the Raiders have failed to score any points in the first half in either game. Against one of the best offenses in the NFL, Derek Carr and company will need to avoid another bad start. The Raiders offensw suffers from questionable play calling and a ton of three and out drives early in games. On the other side, the Eagles defense has been dominant. Led by Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles defense is fast and aggressive. They are #4 in takeaways and have sacked the quarterback 36 times this season.
The best way to attack an aggressive unit is with a strong rushing attack. Mixing in the play action pass and getting Marshawn Lynch running downhill early could grind on this defense.