You get the sense that Derek Carr has had a quiet start to the season, but the numbers say different. Carr is completing 75 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree have taken the spotlight, but it might be Carr’s time to shine during a prime-time game. Kirk Cousins has struggled with a new cast of targets.
Both teams have strong running back committees. The Redskins’ Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine combined for 222 yards on the ground last week. But Kelley (ribs) probably won’t be 100 percent healthy this week. Lynch is still running through defenders as the Raiders’ running game continues to expand. Look for the Raiders to use Cordarrelle Patterson more on running plays.
Washington was deep at receiver last season. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon gone, the Redskins’ passing game has stalled. New No. 1 wideout Terrelle Pryor is still trying to figure out the playbook, and Jamison Crowder hasn’t stepped up as the No. 2 receiver. Washington could be without star tight end Jordan Reed (chest). Amari Cooper might have a quiet game with Josh Norman on him, but Michael Crabtree is capable of stepping up.
The Redskins’ best player might be Trent Williams, arguably the NFL’s top left tackle. Williams is joined by center Spencer Long and right guard Brandon Scherff to give Washington one of the better lines in the NFC. But the Raiders arguably have the NFL’s deepest line.
The Redskins, who operate under a 3-4 scheme, are led by nose tackle Ziggy Hood and added first-round pick Jonathan Allen. The Raiders’ crew of Khalil Mack, Eddie Vanderdoes, Justin Ellis and Mario Edwards Jr. continues to get better.
Inexperienced Raiders linebackers Cory James and Marquel Lee might be in trouble against the Redskins’ physical ground-and-pound game. Washington is led by explosive linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
The Raiders’ bend-but-don’t-break pass defense has worked with safety Karl Joseph making numerous clutch plays. But the corners allowed big plays to Jets receivers last week. Norman, arguably the NFL’s best cornerback, continues to shut down top wideouts for the Redskins.
Giorgio Tavecchio continues to shine as the Raiders’ kicker, with explosive playmakers Patterson and Jalen Richard returning kicks. The versatile Thompson is the kickoff returner for Washington.
The Raiders were one of the best road teams in 2016 with a 6-2 record. Oakland already has an impressive road win against the Titans this season. Traveling across the country won’t affect the Raiders.
Micah Roberts (Sportsline.com analyst): Raiders 34, Redskins 33 — The biggest thing to consider is the Raiders being favored playing in the Eastern time zone. They had gone 1-18 straight up playing on the East Coast before going 3-0 and covering all three last season. Oakland has covered 10 of its past 13 road games, and quarterback Derek Carr seems to be at his best against hostile crowds. But in this spot, the 3-point spread is too high. The public is all over Oakland, usually a sign to stay away. The better bet is over 55. Oakland has gone over in seven of its past eight as a favorite, and Washington has gone over in 13 of 16 as an underdog.