Even with the momentum of a confidence-building victory 4,000 miles away last week, the Raiders face a daunting task here Sunday against former teammate Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears’ suffocating defense.
Even coming off an upset in Indianapolis last Sunday, the Raiders are a 5-point underdog.
Watching their practices this week on a 300-acre estate outside London, I came away convinced this young team is starting to come together. There was a spring in their collective step that was missing before the Colts’ game — a step that may be missing from their opponents.
Remember, the Raiders arrived in London on Monday morning. The Bears didn’t leave Chicago until Thursday night. We shall see if the extra time in the U.K. produces a more spirited effort than the Raiders showed last year playing abroad when they left on a Thursday and were dominated by the Seahawks.
Running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller have looked especially sharp in coach Jon Gruden’s offensive practices. If wide receiver Tyrell Williams continues to be slowed by a foot injury, look for Trevor Davis to step up as he did last week against Indy.
As for the Bears, bookies and bettors have convinced themselves that losing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to a shoulder injury is no big deal. Yes, Chase Daniel, who replaces Trubisky on Sunday, is a 10-year veteran. But he has started only five games. Will he be more like the Giants’ Daniel Jones? Or the Jets’ Trevor Siemian? Stay tuned.
A half-dozen ’dogs won outright last week. The Raiders were one of them. Now they have a chance to shock the NFL again.
Reviews of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, where the game will be played Sunday, are superb. Several Raider players and staff, including quarterback Derek Carr, watched a Champions League soccer match there this week and reported that the facility in northwest London is among the best they’ve ever seen.
Interest in UK?
Being one of the “old guys” I still yearn for an old-fashioned newspaper (that would be print on paper) with my morning coffee. In that regard, London and the entire UK never disappoint.
And so I must warn the NFL that its adventure abroad has completely failed to crack English culture. This week’s sporting stories center on soccer, track and field (of course, there’s another doping scandal concerning Nike), rugby and more soccer. Glancing at four papers daily, I have not found one — not one — story that the mighty NFL is coming to London Sunday.
The final insult: Walk into any William Hill or Paddy Power bet shop (you are always within two city blocks of one) and punters are playing the ponies, oblivious that the mighty NFL is coming to town.
Hope you’ll be “listening live” on Raider radio and afterward cashin’ a few tickets. Whether it’s for pounds or dollars, that’s what it’s all about.
Brent Musburger hosts “My Guys in the Desert” from 2-4 p.m. weekdays on VSiN.com, KBAD-AM (920), SiriusXM 204 and TuneIn on The BetR Network.