By Sam McPherson
The 2014 Oakland Raiders still haven’t won a game, and now they have to travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks—the defending Super Bowl champions.
Yes, the road to a winless season continues to get dimmer and dimmer for the Silver & Black … or is it brighter? That depends on your perspective, perhaps.
The Seahawks are not the same team they were last year, either in personnel or in production. But they remain a dangerous opponent, especially for a winless team like Oakland. Plus, Seattle is in third place in its own division, and the team needs to step it up quickly if they want a chance at defending their NFL title in January.
All that adds up to another probably loss for the Raiders this weekend, but let’s break it down nonetheless.
The Seahawks are 4-3 this year, and they’ve already had their bye week. Seattle has wins over the Green Bay Packers, the Denver Broncos, the Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers. The defending champs have lost to the San Diego Chargers, the Dallas Cowboys and the St. Louis Rams
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Seahawks, and they did lose at home to the Cowboys in Week Six—a rare home defeat. Seattle also lost to the Rams on the road, which was one of those head-scratching games that happens every so often.
Either way, at the risk of sounding repetitive, the Seahawks did win the Super Bowl last season, and the Raiders will be playing them in Seattle—neither is good for a winless Oakland team right now.
Seahawks on Offense
Quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch are the keys to the Seahawks offense. Wilson makes the offense run effectively and smoothly with his unique combination of skills both running and passing the ball, while Lynch is capable at any time of taking over a game with his workhorse mentality at running back.
Wilson has a 98.1 QB rating this season, to go with a 65% completion rate and an 11:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also has 362 yards rushing this year, which is more than any player on the Raiders has this season (Darren McFadden, 338). He is the true dual threat who plays under control and with near-maximum efficiency.
Lynch is averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season, and he’s gained 482 yards on the ground. His longest run this year is only 32 yards currently, but we all know the former Cal star can take it to the house every time he touches the ball.
Seahawks on Defense
We all know Richard Sherman is the leader of this defense, but there are four other players having better seasons right now—including two linebackers and two other members of the Seattle secondary.
Linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner each have more than 50 tackles this season so far, putting them on pace for monster seasons. Likewise, both Seahawks safeties are playing very well: Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are both approaching 50 tackles themselves.
Combined, this foursome has made 190 tackles in 2014.
Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin lead the team with three sacks apiece, but the team has only three interceptions total this season. The Raiders will need to make sure they don’t give the Seattle defense any chances at improving upon that total.
Seahawks Players to Watch
Lynch can dominate a game against a poor run defense like the one the Raiders have in 2014. If “Beast Mode” goes for 150 yards or something in this game, Oakland won’t stand a chance.
The Seahawks don’t have any big game-breaking receivers, especially with the oft-injured and absent Percy Harvin traded to the New York Jets last week. But that doesn’t mean Seattle’s WR corps can’t hurt a defense. The key for the Raiders will be to make sure they cover the WRs effectively enough to force Wilson into errors—not the best game plan, but the Oakland defense doesn’t have a lot of better options in this one.
On offense, the Raiders will need to avoid turnovers, period. The two fumbles against the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter killed all chances of a win; do that in Seattle, and it will be over, again, for Oakland.
Anything can happen, and it usually does happen to the Raiders—in the worst way. To beat the Seahawks, Oakland would have to play the best game its played in the last few seasons, while hoping Seattle plays its worst game in years. And actually, the Seahawks probably already turned in that bad game against the Rams a few weeks ago.
So it’s hard to predict any scenario in which the Raiders win on Sunday. Expect them to drop to 0-8, losing in Seattle by 10-14 points—at best.
For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.