The Raiders have crossed an ocean and landed in another country, yet their situation remains the same as it was in the USA.
At 0-3, Oakland desperately needs a win.
After letting a first potential win slip away in New England in Week 3, the Raiders are searching for something -- anything -- to turn this season around.
“This game is all about momentum and confidence,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen told reporters in England this week, where the Raiders are preparing to play the Miami Dolphins Sunday morning (Bay Area time). “That’s what winning does, it builds momentum and builds confidence. That’s what our primary focus is. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’ll put a good game plan together. Hopefully we’ll go out and perform as well as we can and hopefully we will get that win this week.”
The Raiders’ losing streak is up to nine, dating to 2013, and if they’re going to break it they’ll have to do it with a banged-up linebacking corps. Three of the team’s top linebackers -- Nick Roach, Sio Moore and Miles Burris -- could be out Sunday, putting extra pressure on a defense that finally showed last week that it might be stabilizing.
After giving up big chunks on the ground to the Jets and Texans in the first two games of the season, Oakland’s rushing defense was solid in the loss to the Patriots. Still, Oakland ranks 31st overall in rush defense in the NFL.
Offensively, quarterback Derek Carr will need to continue to improve. The Raiders offense is still searching for some rhythm. It’s converted just over 35 percent of its third-down plays and the Raiders are last in the NFL with just 37 points scored.
Carr told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com that all he’s hoping for Sunday is to do whatever he can to help get the Raiders their first victory.
“Hopefully we’ll get it this week,” he said. He added that with “75 percent of our season still out there,” getting the first win Sunday vs. Miami is crucial to a one-step-at-a-time approach to improvement.
But that will mean beating the Dolphins, who are 1-2 and coming off a 34-15 loss to Kansas City. Though they’ve had their own problems offensively, too, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill in danger of losing his starting job, Miami has been able to run the ball. Running back Lamar Miller rushed for 108 yards vs. the Chiefs last week and Miami is averaging 5.22 yards per carry.
So, no matter who’s playing linebacker for the Raiders Sunday, stopping the run and forcing Tannehill to go to the air will be a key for Oakland to get its first victory.
NFL oddsmakers, however, have made the Raiders 3½-point underdogs.