Matchup: Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks
Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)
The Seahawks conclude the 2012 preseason Thursday night when the Oakland Raiders come to town to battle the Seahawks. This is the seventh straight year the Seahawks finish the preseason against the Raiders. The Seahawks have gone 5-1 against Oakland during this stretch. The final preseason game is meant for the backups fighting for a roster spot to show the coaching staff that they deserve to make the cut. This storyline is not the focus this year for the Seahawks however, as Russell Wilson has been named our starting quarterback and will start Thursday night. It is not known how much playing time he will see but I don’t expect it to be more than three drives. Here is what I will be focusing on Thursday night.
Russell Wilson will make his first start since being named the Seahawks starting quarterback. I do not expect him to play for long but I expect the offense to move the ball and be able to score points with Wilson leading the way. The Seahawks scored on each of their first six possessions last week against Kansas City. At home, the Seahawks should not have a big problem being able to move the ball. Oakland however has a very fast and talented defense. I want to see Wilson scramble and see what happens when that fast Oakland defense chases after him. In terms of the other quarterbacks, Matt Flynn will most likely play the bulk of the game. Some may not think it is such a big deal, but I am interested in seeing what kind of effort Flynn puts into his performance. He obviously cannot be happy that he will be backing up Wilson, so a lack of effort would have me concerned, especially if Flynn has to step in at some point during the regular season. Josh Portis will also see a little bit of playing time. For Portis, I want to see him throw more even if the situation doesn’t warrant it. Coach Carroll should give the 12th Man a taste of Portis’ arm.
Eight undrafted rookies remain on the Seahawks roster. The final preseason game is their chance to show the coaching staff that they deserve a spot on the roster, along with everybody else that is currently on the team. Of the eight undrafted rookies that remain, I believe the player in the best position to make the team is defensive end Cordarro Law. Law had a solid training camp has been involved in some big plays during the preseason. I’m not saying he is a lock by any means, but if there is only one spot open and it is going to go to an undrafted rookie, I believe that spot should go to Law.
With final roster cuts occurring 18 hours between the end of Thursday’s game and the deadline, the players who get a good amount of playing time need to show they can contribute. Last season for example, Golden Tate was considered a bubble player who needed to prove to the coaching staff he belonged on the team. In last year’s Oakland game he caught 5 passes for 79 yards and kept his roster spot. I’ll keep the focus on wide receivers for this section. In my eyes the only locks to make the roster are Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate. Three or four spots are up for grabs and there are eight players fighting for them. Passes will come at a premium on Thursday night and the receivers must take advantage because if they don’t they will most likely find themselves on the waiver wire come Friday.
The Oakland Raiders enter 2012 much different than in past years. The 2012 campaign will be the first full season without the presence of longtime owner Al Davis, who passed away last October. The Raiders have also hired Dennis Allen to be their head coach. Allen, previously the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, is the first defensive minded head coach in Oakland in easily four decades, as Davis was the primary signal caller on defense previously. The Oakland defense is led by lineman Richard Seymour. Along with lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Rolando McClain, and safety Tyvon Branch, the Raiders have the talent on the defensive side of the ball to make stops and win games.
I would expect a lot of Raiders fans to be excited about the offense. The Raiders are quarterbacked by former first round draft pick Carson Palmer, who was traded to Oakland from Cincinnati last season. Palmer is arguably the most talented and consistent quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon a decade ago. Along with Palmer, the Raiders line up Darren McFadden in the backfield. McFadden is an excellent running back who can be explosive but has been sidelined in prior seasons due to injury (I’ll touch on that next). Also on offense are wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, among others.
The primary concern I see for the Raiders this season is health. If Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden can stay healthy there is no reason not to expect the Raiders to make a run at the AFC West especially since the rest of their division is pretty even. No team stands out more than another. If not, the Raiders will struggle. I do not see the Raiders making a huge jump but they will be significantly better on the field and I am predicting they will have a slightly better record in 2012.
Random Thoughts: The defense was introduced before the first preseason game; therefore the offense will most likely be introduced on Thursday night. I cannot wait to hear the ovation for Russell Wilson… I need to get my visor filled with a couple more autographs. It is a bit uneven still. Hopefully I’ll take care of that on Thursday… The Raiders game is always fun because it is tradition I take my friend Josh who is a huge Raiders fan. We always make a small friendly wager on the game and I have not lost a bet yet. Hopefully that continues this season… The guy who sits in front of me may or may not be in attendance Thursday night. Hopefully he is because I want to discuss fantasy football among other topics before the regular season starts… I want to be free of annoying people in the vicinity of my seats. The last thing I need is a headache on gameday… Looks like the Hawks Nest will be the prefunking spot again this week, but it will be brief as Josh is taking a half day off of work and we want to get into the stadium early for autographs… I like to make fun of Raiders fans. The best part? They are in OUR house; therefore they do not do anything.
Prediction: Russell Wilson leads two scoring drives; Matt Flynn takes over and leads the Seahawks to more points. I will win my annual wager with Josh and the Seahawks will head into the regular season coming off an undefeated preseason.
Seahawks 24, Raiders 7
I hope to have my review post up by Friday afternoon but bear with me because I will be packing for the majority of the day. I’m moving back to Seattle starting Saturday morning! Also I hope to post about our final roster cuts and which players I am surprised made or did not make the team. Thanks for reading!