After getting embarrassed on the road in a revenge game against the Baltimore Ravens last week, the Detroit Lions come back home and take on a struggling Las Vegas Raiders team. Detroit isn’t returning to Ford Field for a standard game; they are playing at home on “Monday Night Football” for the first time since 2018 and also debuting their alternative helmets for the first time this season. The Lions will wear the helmets with their all-gray jerseys.
Even though Detroit lost last week 38-6, they enter the game this week as heavy favorites over the Raiders. Detroit has a real chance to get the bad taste out of their mouth from their loss last week, and the Raiders are the perfect opponent for them to rebound against, as they seem lost not even halfway through the season.
Las Vegas Raiders
- 6-11 record (3rd in AFC West)
- 12th in points scored, 26th in points allowed
- Overall DVOA: 21st (15th on offense, 29th on defense)
It was a rough start for the Raiders in their first year under their new head coach Josh McDaniels. While the ground game was dominant behind running back Josh Jacobs, who led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,653 with 12 touchdowns, the passing game is where they struggled to get things moving. They added wide receiver Davante Adams in free agency as he wanted to play with his college quarterback Derek Carr, and Adams had a good season, getting 100 catches for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns. Besides him, the help could have been more consistent. Coming off a strong 2021 season, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow couldn’t duplicate his 1,000-yard season from the year before, and tight end Darren Waller was dealing with injuries all year long, so he couldn’t produce like he once could.
Despite the team being a top-half offense with the help of the ground game taking off under Jacobs, the defense was the team’s biggest issue. They had the fewest amount of takeaways last season with just 13, with only one star-type player on defense in defensive end Maxx Crosby, who had 89 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, four pass deflections, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Without Crosby, this team didn’t have much help on the defensive side to prevent other teams from scoring, and once their opponent slowed down the Raiders’ offense, it was game over for them.
Key additions: WR Jakobi Meyers, S Marcus Epps, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, TE Austin Hooper, DL Jerry Tillery, CB David Long
Key losses: TE Darren Waller, DE Chandler Jones, CB Rock Ya-Sin, LB Denzel Perryman, TE Foster Moreau, WR Mack Hollins, S Duron Hamon, QB Derek Carr
2023 NFL Draft picks
Round 1: DE Tyree Wilson
Round 2: TE Michael Mayer
Round 3: DT Byron Young
Round 3: WR Tre Tucker
Round 4: CB Jakorian Bennett
Round 4: QB Aidan O’Connell
Round 5: S Christopher Smith II
Round 6: LB Amari Burney
Round 7: DT Nesta Jade Silvera
It was an offseason of spectacle for the Raiders and not the good kind. While it wasn’t as horrible as years past, the Raiders still didn’t seem to make the best of moves in the offseason. They attempted to try and get their former quarterback Carr to waive his no-trade clause, and when he wouldn’t, the team released him. The Raiders didn’t want to start with a first-round rookie, so they went out and signed Garoppolo, who almost wasn’t on the team if he didn’t pass his physical in the offseason, coming off of surgery on his foot.
Another issue that started late in the offseason was Chandler Jones posting things online against the Raiders, and while it wasn’t during the offseason, he was released just one year into his three-year deal. Jones wasn’t the only player out of Vegas soon after signing, as the team traded Waller to the New York Giants just one season after signing a contract extension.
The team got Garoppolo some help in the receiver game with Meyers and Tucker, as well as getting Hooper and Mayer to try and replace Waller and Moreau at tight end. Their first-round pick, Tyree Wilson, was brought in to help the defensive line create pressure outside of Crosby.
2023 season thus far (3-4)
Week 1: Win against Denver Broncos 17-16
Week 2: Loss against Buffalo Bills 38-10
Week 3: Loss against Pittsburgh Steelers 23-18
Week 4: Loss against Los Angeles Chargers 24-17
Week 5: Win against Green Bay Packers 17-13
Week 6: Win against New England Patriots 21-17
Week 7: Loss against Chicago Bears 30-12
- 30th in points scored, 22nd in points allowed
- 30th in DVOA — 31st on offense, 25th on defense, 14th on special teams
Year two under McDaniels and the Raiders hasn’t been much better for the team. Garoppolo has been underperforming so far and dealing with injuries. He suffered a concussion that caused him to miss a game, and he is expected to return from a back injury this week. Jones acted out on social media before getting released. Meanwhile, Jacobs hasn’t been as explosive as he was in 2022, going from the top running back in the league to 20th so far this season. Adams is voicing his displeasure at his lack of usage in the offense, and despite his unhappiness, he won’t be getting traded.
“I’m not here to just hangout, I came here to win.— Logan Reever (@loganreever) October 18, 2023
Davante Adams talks about his usage on offense.
Says he “can make it a much better picture” and if he’s not part of that plan, he’s going to be frustrated.#RaiderNation #Raiders pic.twitter.com/Txnb7xvH1S
Through all of that, somehow, the team is 3-4 entering their Week 8 showdown with the Lions, and outside of Garoppolo, they haven’t been dealing with too many injuries this season. The defense is once again relying on Crosby to do all the heavy lifting, and he is doing just that with 40 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and a pass deflection so far this season. The defense has gotten better, but it still could use some help to relieve the pressure from Crosby.
The Raiders have yet to face a team as difficult as the Lions so far this season, with their wins coming against the Broncos, Packers, and Patriots. The only teams they have played with a winning record so far this year have been the Bills and Steelers, and they lost to both of them. In a problematic division of the AFC West where the Kansas City Chiefs are the kings, the best option for them to make the playoffs is through the Wild Card, and with three of their next five games being against the Lions, Chiefs, and Miami Dolphins, it will be a tough ask out of this team.
Key players ruled out: None
Key players to monitor: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (back), CB Nate Hobbs (ankle), CB Jakorian Bennett (shoulder/knee), K Daniel Carlson (groin), LB Divine Deablo (ankle), RB Josh Jacobs (hip)
The Raiders aren’t too badly banged up heading into this game. The team should be getting Garoppolo back this week as he was expected to miss the game against the Bears last week, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. They did have two cornerbacks in Hobbs and Bennett missed the game last week, so a dinged up secondary could be a good thing for the Lions offense to go up against.
Jacobs left the game against the Bears early but would return, so I could see him playing this week. Carlson suffered an injury pre-game, so if he misses some practice time, the Raiders could bring someone else in for a week of kicking duties if he can’t go, though he did play last week. Overall, the Raiders don’t have enough injuries to make it a concern or a reason that has cost them games.
Biggest strength: Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers
With Jacobs struggling on the ground this season, the passing game for the Raiders has needed to become their primary way to attack, and their greatest weapons have been their top two wide receivers, Adams and Meyers. The two of them have the only receiving touchdowns on the team with a combined eight, and together, they have 913 yards—more than half of the receiving yards on the team.
Aidan O’Connell (2) to Jakobi Meyers (5)— NFL TD Videos (@NFLTDsVideos) October 22, 2023
Las Vegas Raiders
Without one of these two, the passing offense wouldn’t be as effective as it is, and it isn’t effective overall. The team’s third-best wide receiver is Tre Tucker, who has 73 yards on four catches. Hunter Renfrow appears to have been phased out of the offense and subsequently wants out of Vegas.
This team relies heavily on Adams and Meyers to get in the end zone and be the major threats in the passing game.
Biggest weakness: Run defense
The best way to attack the Raiders’ defense is to pound the rock, and oh boy, do the Lions like to do just that. So far this season, the Raiders have allowed 903 rushing yards, fourth most in the league, while the Lions have the 10th most rushing yards in the NFL with 829. Just last week, the Raiders allowed the 1-5 Bears, without Justin Fields at quarterback, to put up 173 rushing yards and two touchdowns on them.
The best way the Lions are going to attack this team and win this game is if they constantly run the ball against this poor rush defense in the Raiders. Crosby is a pass rusher, but the Lions need to double-team him to eliminate him as a threat entirely, as nobody else comes close to his production on the defensive line.
Key matchup: Lions secondary vs. Raiders wide receivers
After getting torched for 357 yards last week, the Lions’ secondary will need a better game going up against the Raiders wide receivers. The group was without cornerback Jerry Jacobs in Week 7, and it’s unclear if he will be able to play this week as of this publishing, but if he can’t go, then defensive back Will Harris will be tasked to start, which hasn’t been promising so far.
As I mentioned earlier, the primary two receivers the Lions need to worry about are Adams and Meyers. What Detroit can’t do, though, is ignore someone else and allow them to break out and have a good game and be the difference-maker for the Raiders. The secondary must take every receiver as a threat to them and do their best to make sure what happened against the Ravens doesn’t happen again.
Vegas line for Sunday: Lions by 8