By: Barry Barnes, Founder
The Oakland Raiders are clearly not having the season they and the media were expecting. They are still in the hunt to win their respective AFC West division, but they don’t have a large margin for error. With a thin wide receiving core entering Week 13, the Raiders need a lift, and they need wide receiver Seth Roberts to take his game to another level.
Raiders number one and two receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will be inactive for the team’s Week 13 matchup against the New York Giants.
Cooper may miss a couple of games due to an ankle injury and a concussion sustained in Week 12 against the Denver Broncos. In the same showdown, Crabtree got into an altercation with Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, which led to them receiving a one-game suspension without pay. Both players were originally handed a two-game suspension until it was reduced Wednesday.
With Roberts influencing the game, however, the Raiders are still expected to win that contest.
Roberts proved to the Raiders that he can be a solid third-receiver over the past two seasons. In the last two campaigns for the Silver and Black, the NFL Regional Combine pioneer from the 2014 trials averaged 31 receptions, 438.5 yards and five touchdowns.
Roberts is having a quiet go round this season as he has registered 24 catches for 262 yards and a touchdown. Quiet in the sense that Roberts averaged 66 targets the last two seasons, 77 times in 2016. This year, he has been targeted 39 times.
Despite signing Roberts to a three-year, $12 million contract in August, the Raiders signed wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to challenge for the third-receiver slot and tight end Jared Cook during the offseason. Some of Roberts’ stats suffered due to those signings and drops.
Roberts has flown under the radar since making the active roster in 2015, but he needs to get into a rhythm for it is not too late for him to post respectable numbers. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has nothing but praise for his receiving threat.
“I don’t know why he (Roberts) goes under the radar so much,” said Carr about Roberts, “But that man has made game-winning catch after big-time play and all these things and it’s because he works his tail off. There’s no secret. This man goes out there every single day. He puts in the extra work when nobody is watching, he studies his stuff, and he asks me questions.”
In Week 14, the Raiders will face the Kansas City Chiefs and they will need all hands on deck to earn an upset – that includes Roberts.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS VS. ATLANTA FALCONS
The RC platform has a stellar matchup as Minnesota Vikings leading receiver Adam Thielen will be confronted by Falcons defensive back Kemal Ishmael and C.J. Goodwin. Both Ishmael and Goodwin are aggressive players and their skill set will be challenged as Thielen will showcase his speed and ability to find the holes on the field to pick the Falcons’ secondary a part.
Ishmael has 22 tackles on the season, including a sack which was his first of his career, and it came against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11. Goodwin has eight stops on the season and four of those were amassed in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Thielen is third in the league in receiving yards at 1,005 and tied fourth in receptions with 70. He will be a legitimate test for the hot Falcons’ defense.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS VS. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Cole is gaining more confidence each week. With 19 catches for 27 yards, he should be crossing the goal line soon. He has 19 catches for 273 yards.
Milton has six tackles, while Moore has nine.
Expect to witness how Cole will be matched up against either one of the RC leaders.
THE RC RUN-THROUGH
- Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva and defensive back Robert Golden playing their best ball of the season. Villanueva has been a pillar for the offensive line all season and he will continue to help lead the charge in establishing the run and protect against the Cincinnati Bengals. Golden is more involved with the defense so expect his productivity to increase.
- Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill earned more playing time with the defense, and he will be needed to help the Seahawks off the field.