Defences to the Fore No More

The Raiders and Seahawks meet at Wembley Stadium this weekend (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle Seahawks @ Oakland Raiders* (Wembley Stadium, London), Sun 14th October, live on sky sports action 6.00pm

Form:

2-3 Seattle Seahawks travel to London to face the Oakland Raiders who forfeit their home game to play in Wembley.

Jon Gruden’s men are 1-4 and and are struggling without their star man Khalil Mack who was incomprehensibly traded to the Chicago Bears just before the season started.

Mack has forced more fumbles than the Raiders defence and almost matches them for sacks alone, five to their six.

The Seahawks were 0-2 after losing to the Bears and the Broncos on the road. However they did beat Dallas and Arizona then before succumbing to the express train of the Rams offence last week at home.

Oakland have played before in London, losing to Miami in 2014.

The Raiders have not scored more than 21 points in nine of their last 10 games. The Raiders have also allowed 29.8 points per game so far, big improvement is needed.

Seattle seem to have found a ground game, someone rushing for 100 yards plus in their last three games, prior to that they went 22 straight games without someone rushing for 100 yards.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson attended Royal Ascot to promote this fixture earlier this year with wife and singer Ciara

The Match:

Rain and wind is set to subside come game time on Sunday in London. Just a small chance of rain after kick off and 10kmph winds. London’s reputation for unsuitable, low scoring football conditions is a bit of a myth with 12 of the last 18 games in London producing over 47 points.

The Seahawks are arguably better prepared arriving a full day earlier to London to acclimatise and very aware of sleep schedules etc. while Jon Gruden arrives a day later with the Raiders and only seems worried for his own fear of flying and the hope it won’t trigger another case of vertigo, the Raiders flight a couple of hours longer also.

Seattle in 2017 were 23rd in the league for rushing yards and are now up to eighth after five games. Chris Carson was back from a hip injury with 20 touches last week. The Raiders D have given away 109 touches for 551 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the season so far. Carson, like Marshawn Lynch is impressive in the amount of yards he can run for after contact.

Linebackers for the Raiders are not holding up in coverage; ranking 32nd, allowing 495 passing yards and six TDs so far this season.

The Raiders could be vulnerable to deep balls and that allows to you believe that Tyler Lockett will have a big game, he has three 40+ yard catches in his first five games this year.

Lockett and Doug Baldwin could be in for big days in London. There’s not as much pressure on Russell Wilson to scramble this year now with a run game and the less intimidating Raiders D without Mack, he may have time to pick his pass in the pocket.

Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade of 2014

Marshawn Lynch aka Beast Mode is the story of this game. Ex Seahawk Lynch came out of retirement to play for the Raiders, he seems better than ever this year. That said he only got 11 touches last week vs the Chargers.

The Seahawks have been porous in run defence though, giving up over 100 yard days to each of Gurley, Johnson and Elliott. The Raiders are struggling with red zone efficiency and the obvious change now is to go to the angry running, game motivated, beast in Lynch near the goal line this week.

The Seahawks defence are struggling to create pressure with a lack of a pass rush. That should assist Derek Carr who has already thrown eight interceptions. But with the last of the legion of boom secondary out injured in Earl Thomas, Carr could have a field day with his receivers. Jordy Nelson seems to be the go to man for Carr but the giant tight end Jared Cook has an impressive 11 red zone targets so far on the season.

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Team News:

For Seattle Earl Thomas and Will Dissly are out for the season, Mychal Kendricks is fighting a suspension. Oakland; Kelechi Osemele, Brandon LaFell, Karl Joseph and DeAndre Washington are all inactive.

Verdict:

Storm Callum should have cleared off come game time in Wembley and with two poor defences, not the forces of old, I fancy overs in the first London fixture of three for the season.

My one concern is that the success of the run game potentially for both sides may eat the clock but there’s potential for a shootout too. It’s better to be moving the chains than a punt fest for the overs bet anyhow.

It would be hard to put off anyone getting sentimental with a Marshawn Lynch anytime touchdown scorer bet or the highly targeted Jared Cook.

Over 47.5 total points 4/5



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article