The Oakland Raiders are finally set to kickoff their 2015 NFL season as they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at O.Co Coliseum.
New Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio and his squad face a tough matchup against a Bengals team that lost in the AFC Wild Card game for the fourth year in a row.
Much of the Raiders starters should be well rested after sitting for the final preseason game and starting quarterback will look to get back on track after throwing a pick-six for his last pass in preseason.
It will be the first game where Carr will get to play with his new offensive weapons Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree for the full 48 minutes. Cooper, Crabtree and the Raiders passing attack will face a Bengals secondary that allowed 243 passing yards per game last season (20th in the NFL).
Second-year quarterback Carr will need to keep an eye on safety Reggie Nelson, who led the Bengals with four interceptions. Cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones both added three of their own.
The Raiders will also open up the season with running back Latavius Murray as the feature back after he excelled to end the 2014 season. Murray started out the preseason by showing great burst but then was bottled up against the Arizona Cardinals in week three.
Murray and the Raiders rushing attack will face the Bengals defense that allowed 116.3 rushing yards per game last year (20th in the NFL).
Cincinnati offensive coordinator (and former Raiders head coach) Hue Jackson has some weapons on offense, including wide receiver A.J. Green and running back Jeremy Hill.
Cornerback TJ Carrie and the Raiders secondary must find a way to slow down Green, who has quickly emerged as a top talent since being drafted out of the University of Georgia.
Hill replaced Giovani Bernard as the starting running back of the Bengals last season and shows great promise to have a great year in 2015. It will be a good test for a Raiders defensive line that has been rebuilt to feature defensive tackles Dan Williams and Justin “Jelly” Ellis in the middle, with second-year linebacker Khalil Mack on the outside.
Mack was dominant against the run last season, but added some pounds of muscle this offseason in an attempt to strengthen his pass-rushing abilities. It looks like it has paid off as he was nearly unstoppable against the Cardinals in week three of preseason. The young defensive standout will look to apply some pressure on Dalton to help out the secondary.
It looks like he may get some help in linebacker Aldon Smith, who was just signed by the team on Friday. Smith practiced with the team, and appeared he may be good enough to go to see the field on Sunday.
Good news Raider Nation, Raiders football is just around the corner.