A closer look at the Oakland Raiders matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers with help from Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider.
Jim Wexell: Is Derek Carr finally The Guy?
Chris McClain: It certainly appears that Derek Carr is "The Guy" for the Raiders. He has continued to build on a strong rookie year by continuing to develop and grow with his new weapons in Oakland. He is a highly-confident kid that is always the first one in the facility, and last one out. On top of that, he keeps a separate notebook for each defense he focuses so that he can remember what happened last time.
This season, he has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,793 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He certainly appears the be the franchise quarterback that the Raiders have so desperately missed since Rich Gannon left.
JW: I'm used to Darren McFadden scaring the daylights out of me with his vast running potential? Who's the guy running the ball now? And is this guy any good?
CM: The Raiders were in on the DeMarco Murray sweepstakes but ultimately lost out to the Philadelphia Eagles where he ended up. Instead, the Raiders settled for their incumbent Murray -- Latavius Murray.
With Darren McFadden gone, the Raiders turned to former 6th-round pick Latavius Murray to be their feature back. Murray has taken the starting role and ran with it, rushing for over 500 yards already on 4.6 yards per carry.
JW: I'm also used to Louis Murphy killing the Steelers. But I know he did that last year with Tampa Bay. Who's catching passes with Rookie of the Year Amari Cooper right now?
CM: I remember that Louis Murphy, Bruce Gradkwoski game like it was yesterday. Fact is, the Raiders have a much better wide receiver corps in veteran Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper. Crabtree is rejuvenating his career with the Raiders while Cooper has been a great asset to the passing game. The young receiver has quickly become one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL, accumulating 38 receptions for 565 yards and three touchdowns.
JW: Is the city of Oakland embracing these Raiders? On paper, it's a quality team. Is it getting good just in time to leave town?
CM: There's no doubt that there are bigger question marks regarding the Raiders staying in Oakland instead of the performance on the field, but that's not stopping the city of Oakland and its fans from embracing this team. Raider Nation and the city of Oakland is loving what they're seeing on the field and having fun with the idea that they could actually be in a playoff run. Best part about it is that the team is young, and has room to grow. That said, it could very well be a case of the team getting good just in time to leave town, as the future location of the Raiders is unknown.
JW: I looked over the stats of these teams and see a quality, physical matchup the likes I haven't seen in a while. I was reminded of the great Steelers-Raiders rivalry. Do your readers (and you) appreciate one of the truly great rivalries of all time? Or am I just getting old?
CM: I certainly do appreciate the rivalry between the Raiders and the Steelers of old. There's no doubt that it was once one of the best inter-division rivalries in the AFC and it appears to be starting another era. Pittsburgh has been good as of late, and it appears the Raiders are finally catching up to make it competitive again. That said, the Raiders have always played the Steelers tough, even with some of their worst teams.