The Oakland Raiders keep on rolling. After losing back to back games they should have won against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, the Raiders have bounced back with three wins in a row, including this week's win over the Chicago Bears. Let's take a look at how they did it.
Passing Offense: The Oakland Raiders passing game had an ok game against the Bears. Despite not having two of his best receivers in Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, Carson Palmer was able to put up 300 yards on a good Bears secondary. Unfortunately, Palmer also threw one pick and was unable to find the endzone. That being said, the Raiders rarely threw for 300 yards before Palmer arrived, and now it is becoming almost a regular occurrence.
Rushing Offense: For the first time since Darren McFadden went down with a foor injury, the Raiders running game struggled as Michael Bush was only able to put up 69 yards on the ground with a 2.9 yards per carry average. It is entirely likely that the Raiders would have struggled to run on the Bears even if McFadden was healthy as the Bears have a very strong run defense. However, having that speed to hit the corner and get around the Bears linebackers was sorely missed.
Passing Defense: The Raiders pass defense had a good, but not great day. They capitalized on most of Caleb Hanie's mistakes, leading to three interceptions. However, they also allowed him to throw two touchdowns and allowed Johnny Knox to get over the top for a huge pass that almost allowed the Bears to get back into the game late in the fourth quarter.
Rushing Defense: The Raiders continued to play Jekyll and Hyde with their run defense. Throughout the year, the Raiders have either dominated opposing teams in the run game, or got dominated, there has been no inbetween. This week, the Raiders did an excellent job of controlling one of the leagues best runningbacks in Matt Forte. Forte was held to 59 yards on the ground and was essentially a non factor. The Bears as a team were able to put up 172 yards on the ground, but you never would have guessed it watching the game.
Special Teams: If there was any doubt before, there can be none now. The Raiders have the greatest kicking tandem in the history of football. Sebastian Janikowski put up a team record six field goals while Shane Lechler had one of his best days ever. Lechler pinned the Bears inside the twenty yard line three times and inside of the five twice. He also had a booming 80 yard punt. Most importantly, the Raiders kept Devin Hester, the greatest return man in NFL history, in check throughout the game. If not for the fact that Johnny Knox had a 56 yard kick off return, this would have garnered the highest grade this season.
Coaching: What can you say about the Raiders coaching staff after a week like this. The Raiders were not committing dumb penalties. They stuck to their game plane despite the Chicago defense playing a great game. Without Jay Cutler, the Raiders kept the Bears best two players in Matt Forte and Devin Hester under wraps. I really cannot find any problems with the Raiders coaching staff this week.
Overall: After the Raiders win, many were quick to point out that Jay Cutler was not playing and that it might have been different if he were. However, the Raiders were missing their star running back, their back up runningback in Taiwan Jones, their top two recievers, a starting defensive end and multiple corner backs. Pulling out this win was a big one for the Raiders.
Next up for the Raiders, back to back road games against the resurgent Miami Dolphins and the dominant Green Bay Packers.