Raiders embracing Mexico City fan base; 'it's going to be loud'

Raiders embracing Mexico City fan base; 'it's going to be loud'

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders must travel 1,876 miles to play a “home game.” That’s a required trek to face the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca, the second regular-season NFL game south of the border and first since the 49ers and Arizona Cardinals played in Mexico City 11 years ago.

The Raiders willingly gave up a home game to play before a massive Mexican fan base in love with the Silver and Black.

“I think there are a lot of benefits for the league in that way,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think for us, honestly, I prefer for that not to be our home game. Travel a couple of time zones, be hours away from our own place, but again I don’t worry too much about all of that. We just understand what it is, prepare ourselves for it and go down there and have fun competing. That’s how we do it.”

Del Rio said he expects it to be loud all the time, and has told his offense to prep for the noise of a road game and his defense to expect a home game’s energy.

The Raiders have sent a few ambassadors to Mexico City, including Latavius Murray, Taiwan Jones and TJ Carrie. Those guys expect a huge, vocal Raiders contingent to fill an Estadio Azteca that sold out minutes after tickets became available.

Houston is the closest NFL team to Mexico City so they’ll have supporters, but the Raiders should feel like the home team.

“The guys who have been down there already saw the passion and fire of Raiders fans firsthand,” Murray said. “It was incredible seeing all the support we have down there. It’s crazy, and it will be like a home game. I think we’re in for a treat.”

While the Raiders don't arrive until Sunday evening, they sent famous alumni like Mike Haynes, Marcus Allen and Tim Brown down early to headline the NFL International Series fan fest in Mexico City.

The Jack Del Rio Foundation, led by Del Rio’s wife Linda and daughter Lauren, also left early to donate backpacks, school supplies and playground balls to needy children. They are also giving money to charitable organizations doing work in Mexico year round.

Those events will build toward a game in front of 77,000 rabid fans who don’t get the chance to watch NFL football in person. .

“It’s going to be loud,” Del Rio said. “There’s a lot of people and it’s going to be very exciting. They’re looking forward to us playing a good game down there.”

Report: Jon Gruden causing divide in Raiders front office

Report: Jon Gruden causing divide in Raiders front office

Life is not peachy in Raider Nation right now.

All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack is gone. The team is 0-2, and now, there is reportedly a divide in the front office.

That divide is being caused by none other than head coach Jon Gruden himself, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Here's how Rapoport explains it:

"The way that Jon Gruden handles personnel has caused a divide in that building. Here's why: Gruden has what has amounted to his own personnel staff, he has people like Dave Rozzano, who is Head of Football Research, who came to prominence on Twitter with several wild takes, including Jake Locker should be the #1 pick. He has essentially become Gruden's right-hand man. Gruden also has his own draft board, his own personnel board, his own people that help him make cut-ups. And then on the other side, there are the respected scouts from [General Manager] Reggie McKenzie who helped build this team from basically nothing into a playoff team and so some of those people feel Gruden has simply not listened to them. It is clear that he is listen to those in his inner circle to do a lot of things, including sign veterans and trade Khalil Mack."

Oh boy. Sounds like things could get worse in Oakland before they start to get better.

Gruden and the Raiders are in Miami to take on the Dolphins. Will he be celebrating his first win since returning to the Raiders? Or will he be walking off the field 0-3 and into a postgame press conference full of questions about this story?

NFL picks: Raiders vs. Dolphins Week 3 score predictions

NFL picks: Raiders vs. Dolphins Week 3 score predictions

The Raiders (0-2) make the long trip to South Beach to take on the Dolphins (2-0) in Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season.

Oakland had a chance to pick up its first win last week, but it squandered a fourth-quarter lead and lost on Denver kicker Brandon McManus' late field goal. Raiders coach Jon Gruden is looking for more out of his pass rush and hoping linebacker Bruce Irvin can step up.

The Dolphins are coming off a 20-12 win over the Jets in New York last weekend. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes while running back Kenyan Drake ran for 53 yards and one touchdown.

Here's how some national pundits picked the Raiders-Dolphins game,

Paul Gutierrez, Raiders 24, Dolphins 23

Cameron Wolfe, Dolphins 26, Raiders 20

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Dolphins 23, Raiders 16

Elliot Harrison, Dolphins 26, Raiders 20

Brad Weiss, Just Blog Baby: Dolphins 28, Raiders 24

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Dolphins 24, Raiders 20