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Week 6 prediction: Raiders can’t top flightless Seahawks in London

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Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden walks through drills as the Oakland Raiders participate in training camp at their practice facility in Napa, Calif., on Friday, July 27, 2018.

The Bye Week can’t come soon enough in Oakland.

A Week 5 loss to the Chargers was a big letdown after a thrilling victory over the Browns the week before against the Browns. Now the Raiders head to London to “host” the Seahawks before that much-needed week off.

The Seattle defense might not appear elite anymore, but it’s still very good in some key areas. It ranks 2nd in takeaways (11), 4th in sacks (18), 12th in total yards per game (355), and 14th in points per game (22.8).

Even without players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, Derek Carr will have to make ball-security a top priority. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson thinks Carr needs to relieve some of his self-imposed pressure:

“For us right now, certainly trying to get him to calm down and play in a more relaxed type of mode so that he doesn’t feel like he has to press to make plays. Again, we like that part about him and he’s a competitive guy, he wants to make every play. Just making better decisions moving forward.”

The Raiders defense will need to take advantage of arguably the weakest offense they’re going to face within these first six games. Aside from a solid running game, averaging just over 122 yards per game, the Seahawks have issues that stem from their lack of protection. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 18 times in five games (4th most) and he’s fumbled the ball six times. Seattle is also one of just seven teams still averaging under 200 passing yards per game.

If the Raiders can’t sack Wilson, they may have no hope in that aspect for the rest of the season. Their only remaining opponent who ranks in the bottom-10 in sacks allowed is San Francisco, who they face in Week 9. However, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is maintaining his optimistic coach-speak:

“The younger guys are really our top-level guys. There’s a fine line between asking a rookie to do too much and rely too much on rookies, instead of taking them through the natural progression they should. We just continue to work on them, continue to put them in the best positions on Sundays where they can get a one-on-one or get on a guy that’s a good matchup for them.”

PREDICTION

It’s hard to maintain faith in this inconsistent Raiders team. This matchup presents the best opportunity for their defense to find some sort of solidarity, particularly in quarterback pressure and pass coverage. Even though both teams are coming off of losses, the polar opposite ways in which they lost doesn’t bode well for Oakland.

I’m taking Seattle, 23-20, carried by an over-150 yard day for the Chris Carson-led running game.

Red flag warning issued for Bay Area

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