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Raiders vs. Saints: Keys to the game

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RAIDERS (0-0) AT SAINTS (0-0)

10 a.m., Sunday, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

TV: FOX (Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale)

Radio: 98.5/102.9 (Greg Papa, Tom Flores, Lincoln Kennedy)

LINE

Saints by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Drew Brees vs. the Raiders secondary. Derek Carr against the Dennis Allen-led defense is a close second, but that’s a strength (Carr) against a weakness (Saints defense was 31st in the league last year). The Raiders expect their secondary to be a strong one thanks to the additions of Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson. There’s no better way to prove it than facing one of the NFL’s most prolific quarterbacks of all-time. Since 2006 when he joined the Saints, nobody has more passing yards (48,555), touchdown passes (348), 300-yard games (89) and 400-yard games (13).

STATS TO LIVE BY

The Saints have just a 17-32 all-time record on opening day, although they are 4-0 at home in the Sean Payton era. New Orleans ranked at or near the bottom in almost every major defensive category last year: total defense (413.4, 31st), rushing defense (129.4, 31st), passing defense (284.0, 31st), points per game (29.8, 32nd), fourth-down conversion percentage (76.9, 31st) and red zone defense percentage (67.7, 32nd). The Saints did counter that a bit with the second-ranked offense and top-ranked passing offense. They were also the best on third down (47.7 percent). … The Raiders were middle of the pack just about everywhere except rushing offense, which ranked 28th (91.1 yards per game). Derek Carr’s 3,987 passing yards last year was the third-most in franchise history and his 32 touchdowns ranked second. … K Sebastian Janikowski enters the season tied with Jason Hanson for the NFL record for 50-plus yards field goals. They both have 52.

FAMILIAR FACES

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 13: Senior Defensive Assistant Dennis Allen of the New Orleans Saints on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Former Raiders coach Dennis Allen is now the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator.

Hello Dennis Allen! Reggie McKenzie’s first coaching hire is the Saints defensive coordinator and will go up against the only team for which he’s held a head-coaching job. His assignment is to slow down Derek Carr, the man he named the Raiders starting quarterback in 2014 — probably his greatest accomplishment as Raiders coach.

“I’m so thankful for coach Allen, because he gave me my first chance,” Carr said this week. “Obviously, he’s not going to be rooting for me this week, but I just wanted to say that, that I was thankful. And he knows that, I’ve expressed it to him, how thankful I am that he not only gave me a chance to play in the NFL but give me a chance to start and trust in me for that.”

Jack Del Rio is returning to the stadium he called home for his first two NFL seasons when he was a Saints linebacker. Raiders rookie guard Vadal Alexander was born in New Orleans (although he was raised in Georgia from age 3 on) and went to college at LSU. Rookie running back Jalen Richard grew up in Alexandria, La., and will have plenty of family in town. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis is also a Louisiana native. He grew up in Monroe, La., and went to Louisiana Tech.

LAST MEETING

The Raiders haven’t faced the Saints since 2012, a 38-17 defeat. They’ve only placed New Orleans twice in the Drew Brees era (schedule rotations mean they only face each NFC team every four years) and have lost both by a combined 72-20 score. In that most recent defeat, Marcel Reece had 19 carries for 103 yards and four catches for 90 yards in the loss. He, of course, won’t play in this game as he serves the final three games of his suspension.

INJURY IMPACT

Raiders backup tackle Austin Howard is out with an ankle injury. The Saints will be without starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who has a quad injury. Starting left tackle Terron Armstead is questionable with knee and quad injuries and was limited in practice all week. Rookie receiver Michael Thomas is questionable after suffering an ankle injury at practice this week and backup tight end Chris Manhertz (head) is also questionable.

THE WEATHER FACTOR

It’s going to be hot, humid and about 87 degrees at kickoff … if you’re hanging out on Bourbon Street. Luckily, we’re inside the air-conditioned dome.

QUOTABLE

“There’s no question that each team this weekend, all across the league, it’s going to be, ‘Let’s see where we stand after one week.’ The idea is to be standing with a victory after one week. That’s why these opening days are so exciting. Everybody has a kind of a clean slate, a fresh start and an opportunity to make this season what they’re all about.”” — Raiders coach Jack Del Rio

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Jimmy Durkin

Sports writer for the Bay Area News Group, covering the Raiders.

  • rifflicks

    CRYBABY BEDLAM……. sad….. but, completely predictable

  • LondonAl

    I’ve had all of season to do that but my team brings out the juvenile in me.

  • inonewordraider

    Theyre rapists, theyre drug dealers and some of them might be ok i dont know

  • MuthaFknZeus

    What the heck! Why isn’t all these new pieces on D working perfectly against a HOF QB!?!?!!?

  • 24

    I think my biggest concern is not our defense stopping Brees.

    It’s our offense not matching the shootout.

  • tom kaufman

    6-10,7-9 Musgrave factor

  • R8erEduc8er

    That’s a bright spot. Still a frustrating half.

  • rifflicks

    so when do they wave the magic wand that will have the Raiders playing better than in Preseason?

  • rifflicks

    that is on Carr

  • 24

    What’s even more concerning is….Carr can make better decisions can’t he?

  • inonewordraider

    Our run blocking getting better little by little, amari “uncoverable” carrs game, shootout in nola 2nd half

  • 24

    Well if Watson doesn’t come back…it’s going to take a quick nose dive.

  • rifflicks

    JUST “PROVE IT” BABY

  • inonewordraider

    U complain about crybabies but youre crying the loudest

  • rifflicks

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

  • MojoRaider

    Well, no penalty on the Kickoff. Thats a plus!

  • rifflicks

    b s….it’s on Carr

  • Die Haters

    Truth

  • MuthaFknZeus

    I CALLED IT, SHOTGUN RUN

  • MuthaFknZeus

    SHOCKING, ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING

  • thebumpnrun

    throw off of back foot

  • rifflicks

    Damn Refs…..another 3 and out

  • MuthaFknZeus

    and here comes brees for another td, what a lackluster effort

  • Die Haters

    So honest question…..do the Raiders coaches bet the money line….sometimes I swear they try to put the team in bad position with the play calling and especially with the personnel they use

  • inonewordraider

    No pressure, carr threw it away

  • Die Haters

    Don’t mention that ugly 3rd down by the QB…homers don’t like that stuff

  • RaidersOrNot

    It’s just preseason guys. Chilax.

  • Die Haters

    Lol

  • rifflicks

    that is all Musgrave’s fault

  • TJ

    no running game, no pass rush, defense getting gashed—JUST LIKE THE PRESEASON. tell me again how critiquing the team during preseason is pointless. idiots.

  • Die Haters

    Good throws are in spite of Musky though

  • thebumpnrun

    wow sean smith got beat badly on that 2nd down play. good thing trees didn’t see it

  • thebumpnrun

    brees*

  • rifflicks

    you just don’t know Football as well as the ChuckleHeads

  • MuthaFknZeus

    needed that stop

  • Die Haters

    Flag time

  • MojoRaider

    Its nice to hear a game called without complete bashing of the Raiders from the booth.

  • RaidersOrNot

    These refs wtf

  • MuthaFknZeus

    required flag thrown on any return ever

  • Die Haters

    Del Rio has figured out the refs have chose a winner pre kick off lol

  • RaidersOrNot

    The last flag on Hayden was bogus

  • eastoaklandraider

    There is one adjustment getting Taiwan Jones out the game

  • Die Haters

    Positive returns =flags

  • inonewordraider

    Trawick paid to do one thing

  • MuthaFknZeus

    I feel like majority of the blocks in the back are blocks to the side that they fall forward to and the ref then flags it incorrectly

  • RaidersOrNot

    Raiders doing anything positive = flag

  • inonewordraider

    Trawick held

  • rifflicks

    BS…. if you can look up and read their number …..don’t hit them

  • Die Haters

    Put a different RB in last 3 n out

  • Die Haters

    There is a hold on every play in football…they choose which flags to throw