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NFL 2017 Week 8: Oakland Raiders vs Buffalo Bills preview and prediction

The Raiders and Bills clash in a game that could go a long way to defining their seasons


Oakland’s bid for the AFC West was kept alive with a do-or-die win over the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Raiders snapped a four-game skid with a 31-30 win on a fourth “final play” of the game thanks to flags from the Chiefs defense keeping the game alive. It was a back-and-forth game which saw the Raiders passing game, and especially Amari Cooper, finally click.

Buffalo once again surprised people, with a 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. LeSean McCoy kept the offense moving and the defense picked up a couple of turnovers, but they still found themselves down seven with 3:14 left. A quick reply from McCoy and then a late field goal from Stephen Hauschka gave them the win.

No Lynch, no cry

Marshawn Lynch is a big name, but he has not been a big performer for Oakland. Since coming to his hometown team, Lynch has averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. With him sidelined due to suspension, Jalen Richard has a chance to show his worth.

With 4.5 yards a carry on around half the workload of Lynch, if Richard can show that he is up to the task against a good defense then he should be in line for an increased role in the second half of the season.

Strength vs strength

The Raiders have a top ten offense after their explosion against the Chiefs last week. They will be going against a top ten defense this week in the surprisingly feisty Bills unit. New head coach Sean McDermott has transformed a unit that was near the bottom of the league last season, and as a result the Bills are firmly in the playoff hunt. They will need to be at their best to contain a Raiders passing game that is finally finding it’s feet.

Finding a pass rush

Neither of these sides have been particularly efficient at pressuring the passer this season. Oakland have 12 sacks in seven games despite the presence of Khalil Mack. Buffalo are slightly better, with 13 in six, but both teams have had trouble affecting quarterbacks and are having to lean heavily on their secondary to defend passes. Which ever team can discover how to harass the QB on Sunday will have a distinct advantage.

Matchup to Watch: LeSean McCoy vs Oakland front seven

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an entire front seven to defend someone like LeSean McCoy. From outside runs to dives, options to running routes, McCoy is the lynchpin of this offense. He has touched the ball or been targeted with a pass on 39.3% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps. How Oakland adjust their contain and coverage to try and slow him, while not then leaving themselves overly vulnerable to play action, will be vital to any success they have.

Fantasy Tip: Bills TE Nick O’Leary

Charles Clay’s absence has been a pain, but Nick O’Leary has stepped into his shoes fairly well. With nine grabs on 11 targets. He has averaged 18.3 yards a catch, and while he hasn’t found the end zone year Oakland are notoriously poor against tight ends, allowing 7.6 catches and 65.4 yards a game. For O’Leary, those seven grabs would be 128 yards…

Betting Tip: Oakland (+2.5)

The Bills have won games by nine, ten, six, and three points. they don’t have the offense to blow anyone out, and given that the Raiders are better rested and far more capable of scoring quickly it just makes too much sense to take the points, especially if you can find anyone that will give you three rather than 2.5.

Prediction: Raiders 24-20 Bills

I think the Raiders will be able to take this one outright. Richard is a good back, and together with DeAndre Washington they can keep the offense balanced. Derek Carr has also started to include Jared Cook a little more which gives the Bills another thing to defend. While the Raiders defense is no great shakes, Buffalo are averaging just 19.8 points a game.

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL 2017 Week 8: Oakland Raiders vs Buffalo Bills preview and prediction

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