The Oakland Raiders elected to stay in Florida for the week after their 33-to-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars as they go further south to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.
The Bucs are coming off of a big 34-to-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers last week in which they ran all over the porous San Francisco defense. Without starting running back and Northern California native Doug Martin, the Buccaneers have turned to Jacquizz Rodgers to handle the rushing attack after they signed him a few weeks ago. Rodgers has gained 324 yards on the ground on 69 carries.
Head coach and former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter believe in establishing the running game to help their young quarterback Jameis Winston. Shutting down the running game will help the Raiders defense greatly when it comes to slowing down Winston and the passing attack.
As a rookie, Winston piloted one of the best offenses in the NFL by throwing for 4,024 yards and 28 touchdown, the third most by any NFL rookie. Winston is off to a slower start this year, having thrown for just 1,596 yards and 12 touchdowns, but making poor decisions with nine interceptions already.
The former number-one overall draft selection is tough to bring down with his 6-foot-4, 227-pound frame and has the ability to scramble out of the pocket. The Raiders defensive linemen and linebackers will have to make sure they have him wrapped up so he cannot get extra yards after contact.
There's no doubt that Winston's top target is third-year wide receiver Mike Evans. The big-bodied receiver is tied for the league lead with six touchdowns, while adding 545 yards on 40 receptions. His long reach makes him a tough matchup, though the Raiders have some big defensive backs that should be able to help, especially should he be lined up across from Sean Smith, who stands 6-foot-4.
The Raiders struggles with tight ends has continued into the 2016 season, and Winston has recently found a rhythm with his second-year tight end. Cameron Brate has 20 receptions on the year for 226 yards and two touchdowns and is always a favorite target in the red zone.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio's offense will face a familiar face when going up against the Buccaneers defense Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith spent time with Del Rio in Jacksonville and was believed to be a target for the Raiders defensive coordinator position before they ultimately hired Ken Norton, Jr.
Latavius Murray and the Raiders running backs should be able to find some room against a Buccaneers team that is struggling to close up rushing lanes. Overall, the Bucs have given up over 113 yards per game on the ground, 20th in the league.
Quarterback Derek Carr threw for just 200 yards in last week's win but will face a secondary that can be beat in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are allowing just 350 passing yards a game, 13th best in the league. Carr has had success getting receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree involved, and will look to get his tight ends more involved this week too.
The Raiders will return home after the game on Sunday to prepare for their big week nine matchup as they host the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football.