I see the Raiders as one of those tough 0-2 teams, who drew a tough schedule to begin the season. And let’s all admit, the Dolphins drew a pretty easy 2-game stretch. Sorry, but the Titans are simply overhyped. Yes, they were a playoff team last year, but only because there is a huge gap between New England and the rest of the AFC.
That being said, these Dolphins seem to have a new makeup. I’ve noticed momentum changes. Our offense pounces on the opponent after our defense grabs a turnover. And our Defense plays stout and tough after the offense has just blown a play. The Dolphins haven’t done this in years. But the Raiders are more challenging than our Week 1 and 2 opposition.
Just two years ago, the Raiders were primed as the AFC’s number one seed, and New England would have traveled to the Dark Hole of Oakland for a playoff game. But then Derek Carr broke his leg in Week 16, and the Raiders weren’t heard from again. Last year, they had a very pedestrian season, with a Dolphin-like 6-10 record. They never seemed to recover from that devastating injury to Carr.
But Carr is still dangerous. Marshawn Lynch is still a beast. The defense can be tough. And 0-2 teams are far more hungry and have no complacency whatsoever. I fear these men in black.
However….and here’s the good news. I still think the Dolphins this time around are the better team. Home field helps. Wearing white will help. Adam Gase has been helping by calling better games so far. And Derek Carr makes gigantic mistakes if you can pressure him or force his hand.
Even though we are 2-0, Ryan Tannehill has not been stellar. I think he’s due for an awesome game Sunday. He has 2 picks plus 2 fumbles in 2 games. He hasn’t protected the ball, and I bet that he improves this week. His passing numbers are adequate, but I suspect this week he’ll step it up to go beyond simply adequate. He’s due.
Also due are Kenyan drake and Frank Gore. No one cares about stats when a team is winning. So I haven’t really pointed out that these guys have combined to average only 45 rushing yards so far per game. Talk about being overdue to bust a few big ones!
So I think the offense is due to hit 30+ points this week, with some big plays.
The defense, meanwhile, continues to be steady. The bend-but-don’t-break philosophy has turned to “don’t bend at all.” It’s fun to see them shine. It’s been a true team effort. Guys like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Bobby McCain don’t have interceptions, but they’re flying all over the field and making huge plays. Stars like Cameron Wake have been quietly effective, hustling on every single down so that the offense always has to account for him, which frees up other defenders to make big plays.
I know it’s only been 2 games, but you can slowly but surely see some differences this year. Let’s hope it continues Sunday.