Scouting report: Oakland Raiders

The Raiders could be without their QB this weekend. UK-based Raiders fan Rob Shakespeare previews the match-up from the opposing sideline.

How did you become a Raiders fan?
I became a Raiders fan in the early 90’s during the Los Angeles period. I was a child of the 80’s so in my teenage years, with the music of NWA, Ice Cube and Dr Dre etc., I was naturally drawn to the black Raiders gear they frequently wore. I began to take an interest in the game and fell in love with the attitude and mystique of the Silver & Black, for which I still believe there is no rival today. My dad also played for the then Manchester Spartans UK team which developed my understanding of the rules.

Our teams don’t meet very often but what do Raiders fans think of the Ravens?
I’ve always been a fan of the attitude of the team from the Ray Lewis and Ed Reed era. I like the tough defence they are renowned for and that style of football. I felt for you guys with the London game, which wasn’t a true representation of the team. They seemed to have fallen into the trap the Raiders did a few years back against the Dolphins – it hurt! However, my favourite Ravens moment will be beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl. There’s only one team in the Bay Area!! Haha!

What games between our teams stick out in your memory?
There haven’t been many memorable games against you guys. However, I recall the 2000 AFC Championship Game on the way to your first Super Bowl win where we never turned up and lost, I think, 16-3! Four interceptions and Rich Gannon being KO’d were the stuff of nightmares.

How has your season been so far and how do you feel about the season ahead?
Jekyll and Hyde spring to mind! We were solid against a good Titans team and a stubborn Jets defence, but capitulated against solid tests in Washington and Denver. We struggle at CB, which is clear from the big plays we have conceded, and the offence has been strangely muted in the last two. Carr going down for 2-6 weeks is a big blow but EJ Manuel is an experienced NFL starter with a decent arm and mobility. I’m not as concerned about that as most Raider fans. I think he’ll be serviceable behind our decent OL. We have a strong DL and a good running game by committee with Lynch at the head.

What would you say are the keys to this Sunday’s game?
The key for me is who wins the running game. Both have good run defence and questionable passing attack, especially with EJ stepping in, Cooper struggling and Crabtree likely inactive. Jared Cook could be utilised at TE more, which I would encourage as he is a tough matchup for LBs. I do feel it will be a tight, close game with two stuttering teams but I think the Raiders edge the game by three. All the best for the season guys.

Rob Shakespeare runs the @UKRaiders Twitter account
Photo: Brook Ward

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