There's no doubt that the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum will be rocking when the Raiders return home to take on the Atlanta Falcons in their regular season home-opener.
The Raiders are coming off a thrilling win in New Orleans where head coach Jack Del Rio got the win by going for two in the final minute. Now, they'll host another NFC South opponent as they look to begin 2-0 for the first time since 2002, the year they last made the playoffs.
Despite the win, the Raiders defense struggled last week especially against the pass. In fact, free agent signing cornerback Sean Smith struggled to keep Brandin Cooks in check and got benched, but is fully expected to be back in the starting lineup when the Raiders take the field again Sunday.
The secondary will have another tough matchup as they host veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, who is coming off of a year where he threw for 4,591 yards and 21 touchdowns. His top target, Julio Jones, is coming off a four-catch performance for 66 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons also bring in a new wide receiver they signed in free agency, Mohamed Sanu. Sanu brings another difficult matchup for the Raiders as they'll have to keep an eye on both as he hauled in five catches of his own for 80 yards last week.
Running back Devonta Freeman returns for the Falcons after rushing for a league-high 11 touchdowns last year. Now he has a healthy Tevin Coleman to compliment him, who is a very capable back of his own and could be a big boost for the Falcons offense. Coleman is also a solid pass catcher out of the backfield, an area the Raiders struggled to cover last week against the Saints.
Third-year quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders offense were able to adjust nicely last week and scored 35 total points, including 22 in the last quarter.
Carr will have a chance for another big game as the Falcons secondary that gave up 248.0 yards per game last year, 15th in the NFL. Carr needs to keep an eye on Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, while also looking out for center fielder safety Ricardo Allen who led the team with three interceptions.
Carr and second-year wide receiver Amari Cooper found a nice rhythm, connecting for 137 yards through the air. They'll look to get their first touchdown connection on Sunday in front of Raider Nation at home.
The Raiders rushed for 167 yards last year against the Saints defense, and will now face the Falcons defense that was in the bottom-third of the league last year allowing 105.0 yards per game. That's music to the ears of running backs Latavius Murray and rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave could use more of Washington and Richard after seeing Richard break free for a big 75-yard touchdown run in week one.
Del Rio will take his team on the road for back-to-back games next week, taking on the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.