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Last week I pointed out a couple of key matchups that were very important to the Bears vs. Raiders game. The first was Jared Veldheer vs. Julius Peppers. The second was the punt team vs. Devin Hester.
Veldheer had great success the previous week against Jared Allen, but struggled against Peppers, who recorded two sacks and five total tackles. He was a terror in the backfield and the sacks really derailed a couple drives. Peppers is a challenge for even the best offensive tackle so it's difficult to judge Veldheer too harshly. Veldheer will need to perform much better against the edge rushers of the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions in the upcoming week if the Raiders are to maintain their current level of success.
On the other hand, Shane Lechler utterly neutralized Devin Hester. Lechler recorded one touchback on an 80-yard bomb that sailed completely over the head of a rapidly retreating Hester. Lechler also downed three punts inside the Bears' own 20-yard line. Hester returned two punts for a grand total of seven yards. It's clear that Lechler is the best punter in the game, and even though the Raiders weren't scoring touchdowns Lechler kept the Bears totally out of the game by sticking them with terrible field position on every occasion possible. He may be one of the most important reasons the Raiders were able to record the victory.
Yesterday brought us three important AFC West games. They told us a lot about all four teams in the division: specifically, that the Raiders are the best team even when half the team is injured, that the Chargers and Chiefs should start planning their draft parties, and that Tebow Mania isn't slowing down anytime soon. Let's take the games one at a time.
Bears (20) @ Raiders (25): As expected, the Bears had trouble moving the ball and turned it over several times. Matt Forte could not get going at all, but the Bears still racked up the rushing yards due to Caleb Hanie's scrambling ability. The Raiders were unable to get into the end zone until late in the game, but due to Sebastian Janikowski's six field goals they were still able to rack up the points. Carson Palmer threw for 301 yards against a stout defense and without several of his best receivers, which is a promising sign for the future. The Raiders only committed six penalties in the game, another promising sign, as most of those were holding calls against a defensive line that was playing extremely well.
The Bears made a comeback late in the game to keep it close, but they failed to recover an onside kick, and Caleb Hanie ended the game with a brainless intentional grounding penalty. Don't let the score fool anyone, this had the feel of a 35-7 rout. The Raiders were a vastly better team yesterday.
Broncos (16) @ Chargers (13): Once again, the Chargers failed to contain Tim Tebow, except this time he didn't have any deficit to try to climb out of. The Chargers went ahead early with a Rivers-to-Gates TD pass midway through the second quarter, but that was about the only good thing Philip Rivers would do. He didn't turn the ball over but didn't have a very good day overall, throwing for less than 200 yards. Tebow also failed to pass for 200 yards, but he rushed 22 times for 67 yards and kept the defense off-balance. That strategy paid off in overtime when the read-option attack finally broke through for Denver, leading to a long Willis McGahee run that led to a game-winning field goal.
Tim Tebow isn't putting up gaudy numbers, but once again his WR corps dropped a ton of passes (four yesterday) and he threw a beautiful TD pass to Eric Decker just before halftime. Teams still appear totally unable to properly game plan for him. Until they do, he will continue to be effective.
Steelers (13) @ Chiefs (9): The Steelers did not play very well, mostly due to a good effort by Kansas City's defense, but Tyler Palko turned the ball over four times. It was a sloppy game and there isn't much noteworthy to say about it except that it marks the end of the Palko Era in K.C.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was taken off the field on a stretcher in last week's game against the Minnesota Vikings, but was able to catch a flight home on the Raiders team plane, albeit wearing a neck brace. He was right back in action on Sunday in a limited capacity, picking up 42 yards on four catches.
According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Heyward-Bey was still feeling discomfort in his neck and was leaving his playing time decisions to his coach. Hopefully he was not rushing back into action prematurely, although time will tell if the injury really is as minor as he is suggesting.
To keep up to date with all news and info regarding the Oakland Raiders, please visit Silver and Black Pride.
On a day when the Oakland Raiders offense was having difficulty finding the end zone, their special teams were able to lead them to a 25-20 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, in large part due to some talented feet that kicked their way into the record books.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski scored 19 of Oakland's 25 points going six-for-six on field goal attempts and adding an extra point following Michael Bush's fourth quarter touchdown run. Janikowski's field goals came from 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards, setting a new Oakland record for most field goals in a single game.
Punter Shane Lechter also set an Oakland record with a massive 80 yard punt. Lechter was the unsung hero in the game, as his consistent long punts kept the Bears from getting too close. He had 273 yards on five punts, averaging 54.6 yards per punt.
Quarterback Carson Palmer had a solid enough game, finishing 21-for-37 with 301 passing yards, but was unable to complete a touchdown pass and threw an interception, which was Oakland's only turnover of the game.
To keep up to date with all Raiders news and info, please visit Silver and Black Pride.
The Oakland Raiders showed why special teams are important against the Chicago Bears. They had the best kicker on the field in Sebastian Janikowski to put points on the board, and they had the best punter on the field in Shane Lechler to kick the ball away from Devin Hester.
Janikowski kicked six field goals to set a team record. Lechler finished with an average of over 54 yards a punt to keep the ball away from Chicago's dangerous return weapon. Hester was pretty much stopped in punt and kick coverage, returning two kicks for only about 20 yards each and two of the five punts for a combined seven punts.
The Raiders didn't need to have too much of a functional offense to win on Sunday. They moved the football enough to get points from Janikowski and did punch it into the end zone late, but otherwise they were fairly ineffective. Oakland only rushed for 73 yards as Michael Bush averaged less than three yards per carry. Carson Palmer did throw for over 300 yards, but completed only 57% of his passes and threw no touchdowns, one pick. Decent, but hardly good.
However, Caleb Hanie wasn't much better, throwing three picks, two that resulted in Raider field goals (which eventually ended up being the difference in the game). Chicago managed 401 yards of offense, but couldn't punch it in enough to get the win.
Oakland improves to 7-4 on the season and stays atop the AFC West.
While the Oakland Raiders were able to continue their winning ways with a 25-20 victory over the Chicago Bears, they continue to struggle shaking loose the pesky dog that is the Denver Broncos. The Broncos once again came from behind and won their fourth straight game. While Willis McGahee and the Broncos pass defense was an integral part of the win, Tim Tebow will get plenty of plaudits for timely plays in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Tebow was once again a running machine with accuracy struggles. He completed 9 of 18 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 67 yards en route to the 16-13 overtime win. The Broncos were behind 13-7 in the third quarter and got a third quarter and fourth quarter field goal from Matt Prater to tie the game and force overtime. After three punts, the Chargers seemed to break through in the extra frame, getting a first down on the Broncos 35.
Three straight runs set up 4th and 10 at the 35. Nick Novak had his first attempt blocked, but the Broncos had called timeout immediately before the kick. On the second attempt, Novak was wide right and short. Three runs between McGahee and Tebow gained 40 yards and set up the game-winning 37-yard field goal. Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos had done it again.
This game leaves the Broncos at 6-5 and a game back of the 7-4 Oakland Raiders. The Chargers drop to 4-7 with the loss and are three games back with five to go. They are still mathematically alive, but they will need some serious Raiders and Broncos struggles the rest of the way. The Chiefs are hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football looking to maintain their two-game deficit. In week 13, the Raiders travel to Miami, the Broncos go to Minnesota, the Chargers go to Jacksonville and the Chiefs travel to Chicago.
The Oakland Raiders might not be able to punch it in the end zone today, but they have the Polish Hammer is on their side, so it's not really needed at this point.
Oakland has opened up their lead to two scores thanks to effective passing by Carson Palmer. Palmer spread the ball to Chaz Schillens for 17 yards and Marcel Reece for 11 and 29 yards to help give Sebastian Janikowski a 37 yard field goal and put Oakland up 15-7. On the next Oakland scoring drive, Palmer connected with Schilens for 11 and 16 yards and Michael Bush for 12 yards to set up a Janikowski 44 yarder. That sets a franchise record for most field goals made in a game for Oakland.
Oakland's defense has proven they can contain Caleb Hanie for the most part, but some rushes by Marion Barber and Matt Forte set up a 50 yard Robbie Gould field goal to put the Bears back within a score. It's a tight game of field goals as we head into the last ten minutes in the Coliseum.
The Oakland Raiders have done a good job against the Chicago Bears. Although they would have probably liked it to punch it in the end zone once to put some distance between them and Chicago, they'll probably be satisfied with their performance up to this point.
Caleb Hanie has had his hiccups. He's thrown three interceptions, two that have led to Sebastian Janikowski field goals, but he also has the lone touchdown of the game on a throw to Johnny Knox for 29 yards down the middle. However, Hanie threw a crucial interception at the end of the half that was returned from Chicago's red zone to Oakland's red zone to set up a fourth Janikowski field goal.
Carson Palmer has managed the game for Oakland, completing just over half of his passes, but his lone interception set up Chicago's only score. The Raider run game has been ineffective up to this point and has made it hard for Oakland to punch it in the end zone.
The Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears haven't generated much offense in the first half, but there have been some points put on the board. Seabass has all the scoring for the Raiders early, as he's put two field goals right inside the left upright to give Oakland the early lead in the first quarter. Oakland took advantage early on their first drive with two big connections between Carson Palmer and Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Myers for 19 and 24 yards to set up an early Janikowski 40 yarder.
Caleb Hanie and the Chicago Bears are really coming out aggressively to try and pass the football. They didn't do much with it early. Hanie and the Bears went three-and-out on their first three offensive possessions, and Hanie threw a pick to Stanford Routt deep in his own territory to set up Janikowski's second field goal, this one from 47 yards. Matt Forte helped bring the Bears to midfield on the next possession, but Hanie then threw another interception, this one to Michael Huff. It hasn't been a good start for Jay Cutler's replacement.
The Oakland Raiders released their inactive list for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears and rookie playmaker Denarius Moore is going to sit out the game. Moore injured his ankle last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings but finished the game. He sat out practice all week and will not suit up against the Bears.
Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will be active a week after suffering a scary neck injury. DHB was taken off the field on a stretcher but made the flight home with the team and has apparently recovered enough to play. There is now word yet on how active he will be, but with Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore both inactive, DHB could be looking at a busy day. Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy will get plenty of targets as well, but DHB has been the team's biggest threat aside from Ford and Moore.
Head over to Silver & Black Pride to join the Raiders discussion.
As the Oakland Raiders get set to host the Chicago Bears at the O.Co, fantasy owners across the nation are looking at whom they should start at the quarterback position. A decent pick this week could be the Raiders Carson Palmer, who has been getting stronger week-by-week and getting more comfortable with his receivers, though he's up against the stingy Bears defense.
Numberfire.com has Palmer projected to earn 14.05 points this week, including 1.10 TD's and 1.00 interceptions; not exactly a shining vote of confidence. Numberfire also projects him to complete 20.86/33.59 of his passes for 235.10 yds, not too shabby but not exactly Aaron Rogers either.
If you happen to have Rogers, or another top shelf QB, than Palmer is most definitely a sit this week. But if your QB is injured (Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb etc.) that Palmer can be a nice fill-in this week.
For more in depth discussion and analysis of the Oakland Raiders, head on over to Silver and Black Pride, the place to be for everything Raiders on the internet.
The Oakland Raiders will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday for Week 12 action. Although the game should be a close one, the announcement by the Bears that quarterback Jay Cutler will not be playing has provided an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a potentially vulnerable Chicago team.
The Raiders will be looking to pick up their seventh win of the season and extend their lead atop the AFC West.
All of the pertinent information you'll need to locate and follow Sunday's game can be found below in one handy location.
Game Time: Kickoff is at 1:05pm PST at the O.co Coliseum
Television Broadcast: The game will be televised on FOX (KTVU FOX 2). Your commentators will be play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert, color analyst Daryl Johnston and sideline reporter Tony Siragusa.
Radio Broadcast: KITS 105.3 (LIVE 105), Sirius 86
Betting Line: The line opened with the Raiders as slight 1.5 point underdogs, but the announcement of the Cutler injury has swung the odds the other way. Oakland is currently favored by 3 points, according to our friends at OddsShark.
Online Coverage: As always, your online home for all news and information related to the Raiders can be located at Silver and Black Pride.
This week, the Raiders look to overcome a Bears team minus their star quarterback to increase their lead in the division. The Broncos and Chargers play each other and the suddenly pitiful Chiefs must face a top-tier AFC team in the Steelers. Here's a short breakdown of each game.
Bears @ Raiders: The Bears are of course without a key cog in their offense in Jay Cutler. The Raiders are without key cogs at just about every level, as their injury list is a mile long. They are down several receivers and will still be without Darren McFadden. Luckily for the Raiders, WR and RB are the positions at which they have the most depth. We saw earlier in the year what happens to the Bears when they face a vicious pass rush (the Lions game) and I expect the Raiders to bring pressure against an inexperienced quarterback in Caleb Hanie. The real questions are whether Matt Forte can get going and how well Carson Palmer can do without several key receivers. I predict Raiders by six.
Broncos @ Chargers: Five weeks ago, the Broncos looked like the season was lost and the Chargers looked to be cruising toward a division title. This Sunday, the Broncos are the ones pushing for a playoff spot while the Chargers are trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how everything went so terribly wrong. The last time these teams played was the last time Kyle Orton saw the field. Orton was benched for his awful play and Tim Tebow took over, nearly leading the Broncos to a dramatic comeback win. Tebow has since led the Broncos to three actual dramatic comeback wins.
This one should look more like the last Broncos-Chiefs game. The Chargers' defensive line is mediocre and they didn't have an answer for Oakland's run game. I doubt they will have the ability to stop Denver's. I think this will be the game in which Tim Tebow shows some progress as a passer. The Chargers are just too poorly coached and inconsistent to stop Tim Tebow for an entire game, especially when they barely held him off from a massive deficit the last time they faced him. Broncos by nine.
Steelers @ Chiefs: Last Monday night we witnessed what happens when Tyler Palko goes up against a really good team: bad things. There's no reason not to expect more of the same. This one will be over by the second quarter. Perhaps Kyle Orton can save the Chiefs season, but not this week. Steelers by twenty-four.
The Oakland Raiders enter Sunday's Week 12 contest against the Chicago Bears short-handed with Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford both ruled out. Wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore are both listed as questionable.
DHB is listed as questionable for the game after he suffered what initially appeared to be a serious neck injury against the Minnesota Vikings. He was able to fly home with the team after the game, which lowered the level of concern to some extent. DHB sat out Wednesday's practice and then was limited on Thursday and Friday.
Rookie receiver Denarius Moore was wearing a protective boot on his right foot early in the week and missed all three practices. He missed a couple snaps against the Vikings, but the missed practices were a surprise. He is a game-time decision for the Bears game.
With Ford sidelined and Moore and DHB both dealing with injury issues, reserve wide receivers Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy will likely get a solid number of targets on Sunday. Schilens has ten receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Murphy has one reception for 23 yards.
For more on the Raiders, check out Silver & Black Pride.
As Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden continues to work his way back from a sprained foot, the team has made it clear they will likely be working him back into the lineup fairly slowly. McFadden has been sidelined since October 23 with his foot injury and has yet to return to the practice field. He has officially been ruled out for Sunday's Week 12 contest against the Chicago Bears.
Head coach Hue Jackson spoke to the media on Friday and discussed McFadden's eventual return. Jackson indicated the team has a plan in place and does not expect him to immediately hit the ground running and be where he was when he went down with the injury.
For now Michael Bush will remaining the starting running back, with Taiwan Jones backing him up. As McFadden makes his way back, it will be interesting to see how quickly the Raiders work him back into the starting lineup. Bush has played phenomenal football, averaging 115 yards per game over the last month. Bush is also 57 yards away from a single-season rushing high.
Even more interesting is the fact that Bush is a free agent at the end of this season. Coming off what will be the best season of his career will make him a much sought-after free agent next spring.
For more on the Raiders, check out Silver & Black Pride.
Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski has struggled with a hamstring injury for much of the last month, but he is reportedly feeling much better heading into Week 12 against the Chicago Bears. He was not on the team's injury report for the first time since week seven.
Janikowski strained the hamstring leading up to the Raiders game against the Kansas City Chiefs and sat out that game. After the bye he was listed as questionable against Denver and again against San Diego, but he still played. His kicking was limited as the team did not let him kick any 50+ yard field goals. It was easy to tell he was struggling as his kickoffs were also coming up short.
According to Seabass on Friday, "I am ready, feeling good. It has gotten better every week. I can still feel it a little bit when I am stretching, but I don't think it will affect my kicking anymore." If this is accurate, he will likely be available for 50+ yard field goals once again. That is a huge boon to the Raiders offense since it takes some pressure off them when the team gets into the opposition's side of the field. In a potentially low-scoring game with Chicago, that could prove pivotal.
For more on the Raiders, check out Silver & Black Pride.
A few shorts weeks ago, this week's matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears looked liked one with a lot of star power and big playoff implications. While each team still desperately needs a win to remain in the race for postseason play, the game will be affected greatly by injuries to key players.
Here is the full injury report from Friday:
Did Not Participate In Practice:
RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), WR Denarius Moore (foot), DE Jarvis Moss (hamstring)
QB Jay Cutler (thumb)
Did Not Participate:
S Brandon Meriweather (concussion)
For the Bears, life without Jay Cutler will be very difficult to adjust to. Expect Matt Forte to carry the ball early and often; he and the defense are going to need to step up if Chicago wants to have any chance on Sunday.
For the Raiders, the offense has performed relatively well without their All-Pro running back Darren McFadden, but this hinges on Carson Palmer playing well for a full 60 minutes.
For more on the game, check out Silver and Black Pride.
Early on Friday it was being reported that Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden might be out against the Chicago Bears and possibly more, but now it is being reported by ESPN that McFadden will in fact miss his fourth straight game due to his foot injury. McFadden suffered the injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 23 and has been out ever since.
All signes point that McFadden will be back in action in Week 14 which would meen McFadden would also miss the Week 13 game against the MIami Dolphins, but he would return to play against the Green Bay Packers. That timeline is what was reported earlier today by NFL.com's Jason La Confora.
Michael Bush will start in McFadden's place this Sunday against the Bears, and so far in McFadden's absence Bush has 362 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the three games that Bush has started in place of the injured McFadden
For more on the Raiders, head over to Silver and Black Pride.
As the Oakland Raiders scramble to get healthy to host the Chicago Bears this Sunday, running back Darren McFadden could miss a few more games due to his foot injury, according to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora.
McFadden is still very, very limited in practice after injuring his foot back on Oct. 23 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and hasn't seen a second of game time since. According to La Canfora, a source close to the situation said McFadden playing this week simply isn't an option for the Raiders, and is a long shot for him to suit up next week as well.
The Silver and Black haven't placed a timeline on the injury or when he may likely return, though some teammates expect to possibly see him in action Week 14 against the Green Bay Packers.
For now fourth-year backup Michael Bush will continue to fill in nicely for Oakland, rushing for 599 yards (4.3 yards per carry) as well as five touchdowns this year.
For more on the Raiders, head over to Silver and Black Pride.
This week, the Oakland Raiders face a unique challenge in the Bears' KR/PR Devin Hester. Hester is the greatest kick returner in NFL history, with 12 punt return TDs and 5 kickoff return TDs to his credit. It has for several years been an adage in football, 'Do not kick to Devin Hester' but for some reason, teams still do just that. This year alone he has two punt return touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdown.
Given the Raiders' propensity for boneheaded mistakes and a lack of discipline, one may easily conclude that this week's game is a perfect opportunity for Hester to add to his gaudy return totals. However, if there is one punter/kicker combination that can shut down Hester, it is the Raiders' own tandem of Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski. If they kick the ball in Hester's direction even once, it will be a grievous error. It falls to them this week to ensure that the Bears' most dangerous weapon never has a chance to impact the game. Given that Jay Cutler is out with injury, the Bears will likely have trouble moving the ball and the Raiders should have no problem trading field position in exchange for Devin Hester never getting the ball.
Of course, anything can happen in football, and as we all know, Janikowski is still struggling with a hamstring problem and may not be able to boot the kickoff for a touchback every time like we are accustomed to seeing. Lechler, though, is perfectly healthy and being the best punter in the game ought to be able to minimize Hester's impact on punt returns with long hang times and directional kicking. Hester is so dangerous that he can change the momentum of a game in a split second, so this particular battle may be the most important in the entire contest.
In Week 11, the battle up front between Oakland LT Jared Veldheer and Minnesota DE Jared Allen was supposed to be a heated battle, one worthy of attention and scrutiny. It turned out to be an utterly one-sided affair, with Veldheer dominating Allen all day long by himself without receiving any double-team help or extra blockers from the backfield to aid him. Allen only recorded two tackles, no sacks, and never really made an impact on the game. It was the only contest this year for Allen in which he had not recorded a sack. Allen did get close to Carson Palmer once, but Veldheer wisely tackled him and was called for holding. Normally penalties hurt Oakland, but this one probably did more good than harm. Overall, Jared Allen was no match for Veldheer on Sunday.
This week, Veldheer has a similar challenge in Chicago's high-profile defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers has six sacks on the year, and is extremely quick and athletic, not to mention that he stands 6'7" tall and weighs 287 pounds. Peppers has been terrorizing the NFC since he was drafted #2 overall by the Panthers in 2002, and he signed a huge free agent contract with Chicago before the 2010 season. He is widely regarded as one of the best defensive ends in football. If Jared Veldheer can shut down Peppers as he shut down Jared Allen, there is no question that he should be considered one of the premier offensive linemen in the game and worthy of a Pro Bowl spot.
The Oakland Raiders take on the Chicago Bears this Sunday, and they got a big Thanksgiving present for their matchup when Jay Cutler was ruled out. But the Raiders have their own share of injury problems on both sides of the ball, and they're keeping a lot of good players out of practice.
Darren McFadden continues to remain out of action for the Raiders, and it again looks like he'll be questionable to return to action against the Bears. If he isn't ready to go, that'll allow the Bears to focus on trying to shut down Michael Bush and Taiwan Jones, who are a little bit more limited in what they can do on the court. McFadden really needs to return, especially as it looks like both Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey are both of out of action.
Here's a list of injuries for the Raiders and the Bears.
OUT (DEFINITELY WILL NOT PLAY)
Wednesday: QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
Wednesday: CB D.J. Moore (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday: S Brandon Meriweather (concussion)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
Wednesday: QB Jason Campbell (collarbone), WR Jacoby Ford (foot), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (neck), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (not injury related), DE Lamarr Houston (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), RB Darren McFadden (foot), WR Denarius Moore (foot), DE Jarvis Moss (hamstring), DT Richard Seymour (knee)
The Oakland Raiders are likely looking at their fourth full game (fifth if you count most of the Chiefs game) without Darren McFadden in the lineup. McFadden sprained his foot in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs and has been sidelined ever since, not even making it into practice. The Raiders host the Bears this week and barring any unexpected developments in practice between now and Friday, McFadden will be inactive once again.
Raiders beat writer Steve Corkran was asked if he thought McFadden will be back in time for the Week 13 game against Miami. Corkran responded in the affirmative, including a mention that he thought the warmer weather would help above and beyond the additional week of rest.
Raiders fans will want to keep an eye on this week's practice participation report for Raiders-Bears. If the Raiders can get McFadden back even on a limited basis, that would be a huge step in the right direction. McFadden is reaching the far end of the timetable for recovery from a sprained foot, so a return on a limited basis at some point this week would make a lot of sense.
In the meantime, Michael Bush will remain the number one back. Bush has had a lot of success in this recent run and will continue to be the workhorse back for the Raiders, particularly with Taiwan Jones dealing with a hamstring pull.
Week 12 of the NFL season kicks off with three big games on Thanksgiving including Packers-Lions, Dolphins-Cowboys and 49ers-Ravens. Once we get through the Thanksgiving games, the Oakland Raiders battle for a playoff spot will continue on Sunday. The Raiders currently hold a one-game lead in the AFC West and would also be in the thick of the wild card race.
This weekend's games provide the Raiders a chance to build on their record and with a win would be guaranteed of pushing at least one of their rivals further down. The pertinent games for the Raiders include their own against the Bears, Chargers-Broncos, Chiefs-Steelers, and Browns-Bengals. This covers the AFC West and the 6-4 teams in the AFC. Here is a rundown of picks for these pertinent games:
Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders: The Bears bring a strong defense, running game and special teams, which would seem to put them in position to grab the road win. Unfortunately for the Bears, they have lost their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, indefinitely and will be starting backup Caleb Hanie against the Raiders. In spite of what Matt Forte, Devin Hester and the Bears defense bring to the table, the Raiders are in a position to benefit from the Cutler injury. PICK: Raiders
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers: I don't know if I can pick against Tim Tebow and the Broncos defense. The defense has put Tebow and the offense in a position to succeed. When you've then got Tim Tebow making crazy fourth quarter plays, what else do you need? PICK: Broncos
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs are struggling immensely and losing Matt Cassel did not help matters. Arrowhead can get pretty loud, but I would be pretty stunned to see the Chiefs pull off what would be a stunning upset of the Steelers. PICK: Steelers
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals haven't been able to get big name victories over Pittsburgh or Baltimore, but they should handle their business against an up and down Browns squad. PICK: Bengals
The 6-4 Oakland Raiders find themselves at the head of the tightly-packed AFC West race through 10 games of the season, leading the Denver Broncos (5-5) by one game and the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs (both 4-6) by two games. At this point, the division could shake out in any which way as all four teams still have a shot. According to an ESPN article and the Playoff Predictor, however, the Raiders are projected to have a 60% chance of making the playoffs.
The percentage may seem high given the incredibly tight nature of the AFC West standings and the ongoing injury concerns of running back Darren McFadden, but the Raiders may have the least question marks of the four teams at this point. Quarterback Carson Palmer is starting to grow into his role as Raiders starting quarterback and back-up running back Michael Bush has filed in admirably for McFadden (no less than 96 yards rushing in any of Oakland's last four games).
A win over the Chicago Bears will only increase Oakland's chances, according to the article. The Bears will play without quarterback Jay Cutler, who has helped his squad earn a five-game winning streak.
The Raiders are currently 4.5-point favorites in Sunday's game, according to Odds Shark. If Oakland can capitalize on Cutler's absence and seal a victory, the Raiders can move one step closer to ensuring a playoff appearance at the end of the season since 2002.
The Oakland Raiders are happy that Darrius Heyward-Bey is in football shape after suffering what appeared to be a brutal injury against the Minnesota Vikings. The Raiders wideout did manage to get on the team plane and head home though, so all appears well and he should be fully recovered in due time.
The big question now turns to whether Heyward-Bey is ready to play this weekend. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports.
Heyward-Bey was kneed in the back of the head by linebacker E.J. Henderson while falling to the turf in the fourth quarter and suffered neck and back injuries and a concussion, coach Hue Jackson said.
"Obviously, we're still going to take precautions with him, but he's moving around, walking around, looking like Darrius, neck brace on," Jackson said. "He's doing good. That was a tough shot that he took, but he's a tough young man. I'm sure as fast as he can get out there with his teammates he will be."
Jackson was unsure about Heyward-Bey's availability for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
It'd be pretty impressive if Heyward-Bey was able to return to action so soon after such a scary-looking injury. You can understand if Hue Jackson would exercise caution before trying to bring their wide receiver back into action, particularly against a fierce Chicago Bears defensive front.
Fantasy football owners (and I know you're out there), Carson Palmer might have some new targets this weekend. With Ford out and Heyward-Bey questionable at best, Denarius Moore, Chaz Schillens, Louis Murphy and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are all worth looks this week.
To discuss the Heyward-Bey injury with Raiders fans, head to Silver and Black Pride.
The Oakland Raiders improved to 6-4 after Sunday's victory over the Minnesota Vikings, but they continue to deal with a variety of injury issues. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski has been kicking the last three weeks, but his hamstring continues to be a bother. According to Seabass, "I get treatment every day, it might bother me the whole year, I don't know. Hamstrings, they take awhile to heal."
Janikowski injured the hamstring in practice leading up to the week seven Chiefs game but was able to get back on the field in week nine. He has played the last three weeks, but it is pretty easy to tell he is not 100%. He takes only a step or two on the kickoff, and the team actually punted when they had a shot at a 51-yard field goal against the Chargers. Janikowski has the strongest leg in the league, so that is the clearest sign of an issue. This past week he had a field goal blocked and indicated the hamstring was partially to blame.
A 75% Seabass is likely better than most kickers, but it is still an issue for the Raiders. Whereas normally getting to the opposing team's 40 virtually guarantees points, they now find themselves needing to get a solid ten yards closer to accommodate Seabass' gimpy hamstring.
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden has been sitting on the sideline for a month since spraining his foot in week seven against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders have called it a foot sprain, but naturally some are skeptical of the full extent of the injury. In his Monday press conference, Hue Jackson told the media that there was nothing being hidden with the injury and the team simply wanted to make sure McFadden was 100% before returning to the field.
Given how well Michael Bush is performing as the feature back, it is not surprising the team is prepared to take its time getting McFadden back on the field. Bush rushed 30 times for 109 yards against the Minnesota Vikings and has proven to be a workhorse back for the Raiders in recent weeks.
One slight wrinkle is the fact that Taiwan Jones pulled his hamstring against the Vikings and his status is unknown for Sunday against the Bears. Rock Cartwright would fill the backup role if Jones could not play on Sunday. It should not be a particularly big problem given how much of the load Bush is handling, but it is still worth noting.
For more on the Raiders, head over to Silver & Black Pride.
The Oakland Raiders are looking like they're in pretty good shape this week when they face off with the Chicago Bears. The Chicago offense looked in good shape the past few weeks, but Jay Cutler has been ruled out for this week and potentially much longer. The Raiders defense should be chomping at the bit to take advantage of the offense.
It was reflected in the line movement of the Raiders-Bears game, which originally had Chicago as slight 1.5 point favorites, but now has shifted totally in favor of Oakland, who are 4.5 point favorites. Oakland is generally one of the toughest places in the league to play football, and it appears like the absence of Cutler will greatly impact the team. Caleb Hanie seems like a capable enough backup, but no one knows what to expect from him when he takes the field on Sunday.
Still, don't sleep on the Chicago defense, who would love to force Carson Palmer and the Raiders into making critical mistakes on offense.
The Oakland Raiders were prepping for a big game against the Chicago Bears, but it might have just gotten a lot easier with a thumb injury to Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. For more on the Raiders, go to Silver And Black Pride.
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