(CBS San Francisco/CBS Local) — They Oakland Raiders offense is stuck in neutral. Since winning their season opener, 24-16, against the still winless Denver Broncos, they’ve stumbled twice against superior teams with playoff aspirations.
Patrick Mahomes led his Kansas City Chiefs to four straight touchdowns in the second quarter of their Week 2 matchup. And the Raiders had no answers, at least on offense. The Vikings ran them over with their superior rushing attack in Week 3. And again the Raiders couldn’t keep up.
This week Oakland heads to Indianapolis to face the Colts. They’re seven-point underdogs for a number of reasons. One of them, according to Larry Hartstein, senior analyst at SportsLine, is “Jon Gruden just doesn’t get it done on the road. 1-8 straight up, 2-7 against the number. They’ve lost those games by an average of 15 points.”
That doesn’t bode well for their chances this week.
Another reason has more to do with the Colts. Indianapolis is 2-1 to start the season (3-0 against the spread), after Andrew Luck retired in the preseason. Jacoby Brissett has proved to be a starter-caliber replacement, completing almost 72% of his passes so far, including seven touchdowns. Marlon Mack has remained productive on the ground after his 174-yard showing in the opener. In Hartstein’s eyes, this Colts team is “…consistently underrated by oddsmakers, especially after the quarterback switch from Luck to Brissett.”
And yet another reason is the Raiders’ archaic offense, which limits the ability of its playmakers to make plays. Hartstein doesn’t mince words when he says, “Jon Gruden’s offense is stuck in the dark ages. Dink and dunk, dink and dunk, he wants to complete like 10 eight-yard passes. And that’s not how the NFL works anymore.”
It’s no wonder that defenses have limited their scoring in recent weeks. It seems they’ve figured the Raiders out.
“They only have 15 explosive plays all year,” according to Hartstein’s calculation. “Those are rushes of 10-plus yards or passes of 15-plus yards. The yards per attempt for Derek Carr (7.1) is really embarrassing. They got a deep threat from the Chargers (Tyrell Williams), and they’re not using him. They’re just dinking and dunking.”
Will Gruden be able to shift his offense out of neutral this Sunday, or do the Raiders continue to struggle against a better but beatable Colts team? The Raiders are remain a work in progress, but they are due for a step forward.
The Raiders play the Colts Sunday @ 10 a.m. on CBS.