The NFL’s series of London games for this year kicks off this week, as the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks battle at Wembley Stadium.
It’s Week 6, and the NFL’s annual series of games in London kicks off this week. It may not be the best representation of American football for the European audience though, as the Oakland Raiders (1-4) play “host” to the Seattle Seahawks (2-3). Both teams are coming off losses in Week 5.
The Seahawks have found a ground game over the last few weeks. Chris Carson (19 carries for 116 yards) and Mike Davis (12 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown) ran well against the Rams in Week 5, and prior that they each took turns as a workhorse (Carson-32 carries for 102 yards in Week 3; Davis-21 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4). In turn, first-round pick Rashaad Penny has been phased out.
Over those three weeks, perhaps not too surprisingly, Seattle has thrown the ball a league-low 42.9 percent of the time. Over that span, not at all surprisingly due to only 73 pass attempts, Russell Wilson has taken just six sacks after being sacked 12 times in the first two games this season. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin had one catch against the Rams last week, due mostly to Seattle’s season-lows in offensive plays (55) and pass attempts (21). But Wilson’s No. 1 target has proclaimed himself healthy after missing a couple games with a right knee issue, admitted some frustration.
"It’s frustrating because I want to be more a part of it. I want to be part of the party, too, I want to be the one jumping in the jump rope, not the one holding the jump rope, but yeah, it happens like that sometimes. It’s part of football."
Oakland is tied for 23rd in the league against the pass through five weeks, and they’re 28th against the run. Daryl Worley is also set to take over as a starting corner for 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley, which may not really be an upgrade.
Wilson has still been sacked 18 times this season though (tied for second-most in the league), so if the Raiders are going to spark their pass rush this looks like the week to get it done. They have a tied for league-low six sacks, while the departed Khalil Mack has totaled five sacks on his own in one fewer game. Half of Oakland’s sacks have come from Bruce Irvin, including one in each of the last two games. So that’s something positive in Jon Gruden’s ongoing quest to find pass rushers.
There’s a revenge game angle for Marshawn Lynch on Sunday across the pond. The Seahawks are 29th in the league against the run and will still be without linebacker K.J. Wright (knee). Even after a down Week 5 “Beast Mode” is ninth in the league in rushing, and with how erratic Derek Carr has been at times (a league-high eight interceptions) the Raiders may want to keep it on the ground during Sunday’s game.
Vegas expects a fairly high-scoring game in London on Sunday, with the fifth-highest over/under (48) on the Week 6 NFL slate. But these mediocre teams both need a win badly, with no apologies if it looks ugly.