Jay Cutler returns as the Dolphins take on the Raiders
Both the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins will be looking to get back on track when they meet down in South Florida for “Sunday Night Football.”
The Raiders (3-5) lost to the Bills 34-14 on the road last Sunday. Oakland put up 367 yards of total offense, including 313 passing from Derek Carr, bur four turnovers and 151 rushing yards by Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy were too much to overcome. Oakland has now lost five of its past six games.
The Dolphins (4-3), however, fared even worse last week, getting shutout by the Ravens 40-0 on Thursday night. Miami mustered just 196 total yards of offense as backup quarterback Matt Moore was picked off twice. Both of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns and Baltimore’s defense also scored on a fumble return. The loss snapped the Dolphins' three-game winning streak.
This will be the first time these teams have met since 2012. The regular season series between Oakland and Miami is tied at 16-16-1.
Oakland at Miami
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Oakland -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Marshawn Lynch
Lynch (above, right) will be back after his one-game suspension for leaving the bench and pushing an official in Oakland’s Week 7 win against Kansas City. Besides returning to action, Lynch also will look to get his production back on track.
Prior to being ejected in the game against the Chiefs, Lynch had just nine rushing yards on two carries. For the season, he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and hasn’t run for more than 76 yards in any game.
Miami has done a good job against the run to this point, giving up just 95.4 rushing yards per game. So facing a defensive line consisting of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake may not be the best way to get Lynch going, but the Raiders need to get more from their running game.
2. Dolphins’ offense
Miami enters Sunday night ranked last in the NFL in both total (252.4 ypg) and scoring offense (13.1 ppg). Things hopefully bottomed out last week when the Dolphins managed just 196 total yards (only 45 rushing) against the Ravens while getting shut out for the second time this season (Week 4 vs. New Orleans in London).
Jay Cutler will be back at quarterback after missing the Baltimore game because of cracked ribs. Prior to the injury, Miami had averaged 25.5 points per game in the last two Cutler started.
Oakland’s defense is 26th in the league in yards allowed per game (356.9) while surrendering 24 points per contest. As bad as the Dolphins looked last week, there should be opportunities to move the ball against the Raiders.
One thing that bears watching is how the running game fares for Miami following the trade of Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia. Damien Williams is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but expect Kenyan Drake to get his chances as well. The two have combined for just 57 yards on 22 carries (2.6 ypc) thus far.
3. Khalil Mack
Last week, Miami gave up three sacks to Baltimore as the Ravens were able to put pressure on Matt Moore all game. Besides throwing for just 176 yards, Moore completed 25 of his 44 attempts and also tossed two pick-sixes.
For the season, the Dolphins have done a decent job protecting the quarterback with just 16 sacks allowed (tied for 12th), but this week the offensive line will face one of the best pass rushers in the league in Mack (right). In eight games, Mack’s sack numbers may be down (4.5) through eight games, but the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is still having an impact.
If anything, Mack continually demands a double team on every play. So it will be important for the Miami’s protection schemes to account for him, while also looking out for another Oakland defender that may benefit from the extra attention Mack draws.
Both the Raiders and Dolphins made the playoffs after lengthy postseason droughts last season. While both teams have struggled this season, they each will be looking to spearhead a playoff run during the second half of their schedules.
Despite losing last week, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw for 313 yards against Buffalo. Statistically, Miami has held up well against the pass (210.9 ypg), but the Falcons, Jets and Ravens were each able to pick up some big yards through the air on certain plays too.
Carr has turned the ball over some this season, but look for him to get back to the quarterback that completed 88.3 percent of passes that went at least 15 yards for two touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two games, as opposed to the 31.3 completion percentage and three TDs with four interceptions since then.
Prediction: Raiders 28, Dolphins 17
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
(Top photo courtesy of www.miamidolphins.com)