(CBS Local) — After a 42-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last week, the Raiders find themselves back at the .500 mark for the season with a record of 3-3. As the season marches towards the second half, matchups like this Sunday in Houston against the Texans, become ever more important for the team’s playoff hopes.
The Texans, 4-3, are currently a half game ahead of Gruden’s squad in the AFC playoff picture, and a win would go a long way in helping with potential tiebreaker scenarios come the end of the season. However, last week’s loss left a bitter taste in the mouth, as Aaron Rodgers lit up the team’s secondary to the tune of 429 yards and five touchdowns. With another play-making quarterback in Deshaun Watson looming, the question is whether or not the Raiders will be able to keep up with the Texans offense in what could become a shootout.
Count KPIX 5 sports anchor Dennis O’Donnell among those who believe the Raiders have just that kind of ability.
“I’m surprised by the seven-point spread. I would take the Raiders and the points. The Texans defense against the pass is vulnerable. I think Derek Carr exposes them this week,” said O’Donnell.
To O’Donnell’s point, the Houston pass defense ranks 22nd in efficiency this season and is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 67.5 percent of their attempts so far this season for over 275 yards per game. That is good news for the Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr, who is completing 74 percent of his throws. Carr may have to have a big day in order to keep pace with Watson, who has been electric this season, completing over 69 percent of his passes and averaging over 278 yards per game.
With the Raiders defense similarly struggling to stop opponent’s passing attacks, a high-scoring affair appears to be in order. One key to watch for is the Raiders pass rush, which to this point has been underwhelming. But the Texans offensive line has allowed 21 sacks and 41 quarterback hits. If there was any game in which you’d expect the pass rush to get going, it would be this one.
In the end, O’Donnell believes the Raiders will “bounce back,” pointing to running back Josh Jacobs as the guy that he thinks will have a big day.
The Raiders and Texans meet at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday with kickoff slated for 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time on CBS.