Oakland Raiders v. Buffalo Bills Game Day Open Thread

Nov 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fans react during a NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fans react during a NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders play host to the Buffalo Bills in a game that is crucial to their standing atop the AFC West – come talk about the game and all things Raiders football here!

The Oakland Raiders are in the middle of a brutal stretch of the season. By the time their game with the Kansas City Chiefs is over this coming Thursday night, they’ll have played four games in 17 days. And that includes a game in Mexico City. So far, they’re 2-0 in the midst of that gauntlet, and are looking to make that 3-0 against Rex Ryan and his Bills this afternoon.

The big story, the one everybody will be paying attention to though, is the health of Derek Carr‘s pinky finger. We all saw the injury last week, his finger bent out at a really ugly angle. Carr suffered dislocations in two places on that snap from Rodney Hudson – but thankfully, no breaks or other damage – and returned to lead a comeback to snatch a win away from Cam Newton and the Panthers.

It was a heroic performance and one that Raiders fans will likely remember for some time to come. Multiple articles dubbed it Carr’s “Willis Reed Moment.” Whatever you want to call it, it was gutsy. To take that sort of injury to your throwing hand and come back to not just lead your team – but to lead your team to a win with style – was something special.

Oakland is sitting at 9-2 on the year – rare air for a franchise that’s been abysmal for nearly a decade and a half – and is within sniffing distance of an AFC West title. But they’ll have to contend with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are hot on their heels. Next week’s game against their division foe is going to be absolutely critical – but they can’t afford to be looking that far ahead.

Instead, their focus needs to be on a 6-5 Blls squad that’s scuffling their way through the season and is fighting for their playoff lives. Indeed, every game the Bills play from here on out will be a playoff game for them. Win out or they’re going home.

They know this. The Raiders know this. And they need to rise to that level of intensity and focus.

Oakland will be catching something of a break against Buffalo in that the Bills’ receiving corps is extremely dinged up and extremely thin. They’re already missing Robert Woods and Percy Harvin, who have both been ruled out with injury. But Sammy Watkins and Marquise Goodwin are both dinged – Watkins with a foot injury, Goodwin with a wrist injury.

The Bills may not get a whole lot out of their passing game – but don’t think Ryan won’t try to fling it downfield anyway. Watkins is exactly the sort of receiver Oakland’s big corners have trouble with, and with D.J. Hayden on season ending IR with a hamstring injury, Watkins could be a big factor in Buffalo’s offense.

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That all means though, that the Raiders are going to be getting a very healthy dose of LeSean McCoy and Buffalo’s top ranked rushing attack.

Oakland has had some difficulty stopping the run this season, although there have been signs of improvement over the last month of the season or so. Still, shutting down opposing running backs has been an issue – and with McCoy healthy and running at a high level, it could be a big issue for the Raiders today.

Especially with the team missing big bodies like Darius Latham, Stacey McGee, and Shilique Calhoun along the front.

The good news though, is that Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley Jr. – key components of Oakland’s run and short passing game defense are back in action. As is David Amerson – all three who missed time with injuries. That should help bolster Oakland’s defense against Buffalo.

This is a game the Raiders can’t afford to overlook. Buffalo is going to come out playing like a desperate team. And the Raiders, needing a win to stay ahead of Kansas City – who appear to be headed to a win over Atlanta – have got to have this one.

Some might not want to call it a “must-win,” but with Kansas City keeping the heat on the Raiders as much as they are, yeah, it’s pretty much a must-win.

What are the biggest storylines to you, heading into this game? Will the Raiders be able to shut down Shady McCoy and Buffalo’s vaunted running attack? Or will the lack of healthy receivers that will impact Tyrod Taylor and the passing game make them so one-dimensionl that it gives Oakland a leg up?

How do you see this game playing out?

This is your place to talk about the game and all things Raiders football. Let’s hear what you have to say. So step up, speak out, and be heard!