Raiders vs Cowboys
Photo Credit: Athlon

 

FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Cowboys – Week 12

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) | Dallas Cowboys (7-3)

 

The Las Vegas Raiders make a quick turn around and head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, looking to turn their season around.

 

Raiders vs Cowboys
Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders have been in a downward spiral the last few weeks, as they have dropped their previous three games in a row. When the Raiders lost head coach Jon Gruden after week five against the Bears, it wasn’t surprising to see the team rally together and show great effort in their wins over the Broncos and Eagles. Heading into their bye week on a two-game losing streak seemed to be the right time for the Raiders to gear up for a post-season push.

But something has been off with the team since that bye week. In losses to the Giants, Chiefs, and Bengals, the Raiders haven’t scored more than 16 points. Their explosive plays are no more. Running the ball for big gains seems a thing of the past, and offense at times looks uninspired to step up. The defense has played relatively well during this losing streak, but they can only do so much when the offense isn’t giving them much help.

With a short turnaround, on the road, against a high-powered offense, the Silver & Black have a tall task ahead of them if they want to see themselves back in the winning column.

 

Two high-powered offenses will be looking to light up the scoreboard in Sin City.

 

Raiders vs Cowboys
Photo Credit: David Becker/AP

Despite the team’s lack of success the last three weeks, they still boast a top ten ranking in yards per game (387.8) and top two in passing yards per game (304.1). While those are excellent numbers, they will have to find their mojo again if they dare to keep up with the Dallas Cowboys, who boast the NFL’s number one offense for yards per game (429.8) and top five in both passing (296) and rushing (133.8).

The Raiders replaced speedster wide receiver Henry Ruggs with veteran speedster wideout DeSean Jackson, who hasn’t been featured as much in the passing game yet. The deep ball threat was a vital aspect of the Raiders offense as it allowed the team to work underneath with short routes for Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. Once defenses would step up and play closer, throws down the field became easier to go, allowing for big momentum-shifting plays.

But the Raiders play-calling has suggested they don’t feel confident dialing up the over-the-top throws and would rather have quarterback Derek Carr keeping things short and playing it safe. This strategy has drawn more and more frustration from the fans and even general manager Mike Mayock, who left his GM booth for the sidelines last week before the first half ended. Head coach Rich Bisaccia and offensive coordinator Greg Olsen need to allow Carr to stretch the field and challenge defenses more often. With weapons such as Jackson, Waller, Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and Zay Jones, there should be no reason the Raiders can’t load up and take shots more often in a game.

And they will need to as the Cowboys will look to score in bunches despite possibly missing one of their big weapons. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is still in concussion protocol and has not practiced this week yet. The Cowboys will already be without wideout Amari Cooper who is out due to testing positive for COVID-19. Being down their top two wide receivers will be challenging, but the team still has Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz at tight end, and running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard as options. Quarterback Dak Prescott will be getting his blindside left tackle, Tyron Smith, back, so while short-handed, there is still enough firepower for the Cowboys to light up the scoreboard.

The Raiders will need to operate on all cylinders if they want to keep up offensively with the Cowboys, as the highest they’ve scored in their losses is 16 points. Finding the end zone more than twice will be a key to the Silver and Black getting back in the win column.

 

The Raiders defense will have its work cut out for them if they want to earn a victory.

 

Raiders vs Cowboys
Photo Credit: Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

It hasn’t all been bad for the Raiders during this slump.

The defense has been playing at a reasonably high level and making plays. They frequently pressure opposing quarterbacks, not allowing for the big down-the-field plays and offering thunderous hits.

Yes, they’ve given up some points, but how can you expect a defense to maintain when their offense isn’t giving them much of a fighting chance? The defense stays on the field for a long drive, holds the team to a field goal, and then gets a short break as the offense goes three and out? Any defensive unit would get gashed and give up points in that scenario.

But the Raiders defense has not backed down from the challenge. Players like Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas, Johnathan Abram, Brandon Facyson, Tre’von Moehrig, and Maxx Crosby have all had highlight moments in these games. If the Silver & Black are to win, these players, along with the rest on defense, will need to carry the load and deliver once again. They’ve shown they can do it; they need some help along the way.

While the back seven have improved with some new faces, this defense’s real change and star is the defensive line.

The Raiders have struggled on the field, and we can easily link it to issues with the team off the field. Nevertheless, the season remains, and life goes on. This team needs to focus, get back on track and find that mojo that had them looking like a new team to start the year.

It won’t be an easy task when matched up against another team with talent looking to discover its own identity. But that’s life in the NFL, and each week is more challenging than the last.

 

Just Win Baby

 

The Raiders and Cowboys play Thursday afternoon at 1:30 pm at AT&T Stadium on CBS.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

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