The Las Vegas Raiders are set to take on the Arizona Cardinals in their first home game of the season. With both teams starting the year off at 0-1, there will be a sense of urgency from both sides to get the first win of the season.
To prepare you for that game, we caught up with Jess Root, the managing editor of Cards Wire to discuss this matchup.
How has Marquise Brown looked in the offense so far?
JR: The only game action we’ve seen so far is Week 1 and he could have been used more. But there was a downfield shot, a touchdown and he lined up a lot as the Cardinals’ ‘X’ receiver. In practices in training camp, he looked great. We can expect a few deep shots to him.
Who is one under-the-radar player we should keep an eye on in this game?
JR: On offense, RB Eno Benjamin has made great strides and is used in the role Chase Edmonds had previously. He is explosive enough to bust open a play or two as the changeup back to James Conner.
On defense, DL Zach Allen is a guy to watch. He doesn’t get the attention that J.J. Watt does, but he is extremely disruptive and you see him around the ball and around the quarterback a lot. If he and Watt are both in the lineup, things could get tough from the interior for the Raiders.
Do you anticipate former Raiders CB Trayvon Millen playing on Sunday?
JR: I am hopeful. He still is learning the defense but appears on track to possibly at least have a role on defense. He will come in on nickel downs but will play outside with Byron Murphy sliding into the slot. The team is very hopeful of the impact Mullen can have with his size.
How did former first-round picks Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons perform in Week 1?
JR: It was very much a mixed bag. Collins logged 7 tackles and 2 TFLs. It was a career-high in snaps, tackles, and tackles for loss. He did take some bad angles. Simmons was the defensive play caller and struggled a bit. He had a tall task in guarding Travis Kelce but he mostly looked unimpressive last week. It doesn’t get much easier this week with Waller.
Who wins this game and why?
JR: This is tough for me. I don’t want to believe the Cardinals are as bad as they were last week. But the Raiders’ edge presence is impressive. I believe the Cardinals are a good team and will respond. But I think the Raiders are as well and home openers tend to give the home team some extra juice.
The offense should get on track and exploit some of the weaknesses in the middle for the Raiders and perhaps their issues with depth. I say it is a close game, with the Cardinals eeking out a 27-24 win. It might come down to a field goal at the end of the game like it has in two of the last three meetings between the two teams.