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The Oakland Raiders only win of the season came in an overtime miracle against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. Since that day, they have looked unenthused, disheveled and not interested in being part of the remake of the franchise.

This is a hard situation for any team to be in. The coaching staff and front office are already looking toward next season. Some players are playing for contracts and others just simply don’t exude they’re all anymore and it shows.

The fans deserve better. They spend their hard-earned money on tickets, travel, tailgating, and merchandise just to see their team throw in the towel in the middle of the game as displayed last week against the San Francisco 49ers. It just has not been good enough.

Classic Carr

This week the Raiders host division rival Los Angeles Chargers and if they are to have a chance in this game, they need their quarterback to play well. Derek Carr needs to forget what has transpired over the last season and a half and get back to basics.

The Chargers are 6-2 and on a five-game winning streak. They will come into the Alameda Coliseum looking to continue their impressive run in 2018. The Raiders need to play like they have nothing to lose and feed off the home crowd.

Statistically, Carr is on track for one his best seasons in the NFL. He has completed 72 percent of passes, his 2,200 yards passing and QB rating on 94.8 put him on target to break the 4,000-yard barrier for the first time. The 10 touchdowns are down from previous years and the sack count is up. However, the offensive line has been a weak point and the team its best receiver.

Cookin’ Up Catches

It’s a tough gig being a tight end in the NFL in 2018. This season more than ever, the position has been more of a diversion than a target for most teams. With a lack of talented pass catchers on the roster, Carr has developed good chemistry with his tight end, Jared Cook.

Cooks numbers are excellent this season. He ranks in the top 10 in the league for nearly every aspect in stats for a tight end. Cook has been targeted 50 times for 38 receptions, 494 total yards, and 26 first downs. He is the clearly the busiest man on the field in a Raiders jersey.

Cook needs to improve on his three touchdowns and his red zone presence. If Carr and Cook can work on their combinations, the points will come with it.

No Marshawn, No Problem

Running back Jalen Richard is the perfect complement to Doug Martin. Martin is the bull, he runs hard and straight and doesn’t stop until he hits a defender. Richard is more about finesse. Knowing the right time to wait, stop and accelerate. Richard is also better at catching the ball out of the backfield.

In 2018, it’s helpful to have running backs who are versatile. Richard is one of those players. His 15 rushing attempts for just 50 yards at an average of 3.33 aren’t the greatest. Yet it is his 43 catches for 348 yards that make him an asset to the Raiders going forward.

In just his third season in the NFL, the undrafted free agent from Southern Mississippi is still maturing as a pro but he continues to improve year-to-year. Richard is currently leading the Raiders team in yards after contact with 310.

The Chargers are hot and 10-point favorites on the road against the Raiders. If Carr can establish a connection with Cook, with Martin and Richard adding a dynamic from the backfield, hopefully, that will give the fans something to cheer about on Sunday.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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