Raiders

Why Bears-Lions Thanksgiving game has big implications for Raiders

Why Bears-Lions Thanksgiving game has big implications for Raiders

One week ago, it looked like the Raiders could be on the path to the best of both world's path.

Winners of three straight, the Silver and Black were sitting at 6-4 and looked to be in prime position to grab a playoff spot in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Bears, whose first-round draft pick the Raiders own, were at 4-6 after benching quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in a loss to the Rams.

The Raiders had dreams securing a playoff berth and a top-10 pick in the same season, a feat rarely seen. 

But a lot can change in a week.

The Raiders went to New York in Week 12 and got rolled by the Jets, 34-3, knocking them back outside the playoff picture. The Bears rebounded from their loss to the Rams by beating the Giants to move to 5-6 and into the No. 14 slot in the draft.

Now, the Bears head to Detroit to face the Lions for the opening game of the NFL's Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. Chicago beat the Lions two weeks ago in backup quarterback Jeff Driskel's first start since the injury to Matthew Stafford. Driskel has lost three games in a row, the latest a 19-16 defeat to Washington, and also is banged up, meaning third-string QB David Blough will start. 

While Raiders fans are preparing their Thanksgiving dinners and dreaming of upsetting the Chiefs on Sunday to jump into a tie for first in the AFC West, they should watch the Bears and Lions duel and become honorary Detroiters for the morning. A Bears win Thursday would make them 6-6 and almost certainly secure a spot outside the top 10 with the Bengals, Dolphins, Washington, Giants, Cardinals, Broncos, Lions, Falcons, Bucs, Jags and Jets all entering the week with four or fewer wins.

A loss Thursday would seemingly send the Bears hurdling toward 5-11, with games against the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings remaining. That has a lot greater chance of landing in the backend of the top 10 than a record of 6-10 would.

[RELATED: Turnovers will be key to Raiders upsetting Chiefs]

So, if Raiders fans have dreams of CeeDee Lamb, Isaiah Simmons and the like, a Bears loss to the Lions is a necessity.

A Trubisky vs. Blough showdown isn't the most appetizing matchup, but there is something at stake for the Raiders. Another L for the Bears would make the Silver and Black extra thankful for the blessings from the football gods.

Why Raiders should add running back to help Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard

Why Raiders should add running back to help Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard

Josh Jacobs is a feature back in every sense. The Raiders star rusher can do most everything well and is capable of playing all three downs. He can carry a significant workload, as he did during an exemplary 2019 campaign where he finished second in AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, and frankly should have won.

He had 242 carries for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games, proving to be a tough and elusive runner who gains significant yards after contact.

Jalen Richard’s an excellent complement as a third-down back who can pass protect well and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

While those two can cover every offensive scenario, the Raiders should still work to add another running back.

That was clear at the end of last year when Jacobs was shut down with a shoulder injury he played through for weeks. DeAndre Washington filled in as the primary ball carrier and fared well but was allowed to hit the open market, where he remains today.

The Raiders could and should look to upgrade that position and not just by finding a backup. They need someone with a different style, maybe a big and bruising back to accent what the Raiders do offensively.

They tried to do that last season, when they worked out every veteran running back under the sun but didn’t sign anyone until Rod Smith came aboard late.

The sixth-year journeyman re-signed with the Raiders on a low-cost contract.

The NFL draft will have quality options available later in the draft, where the Raiders have three third-round picks and one each in the fourth and fifth.

It might take a third-round pick to land Boston College’s A.J. Dillion, a 247-pound bruiser who can run downhill and pick up short yardage by moving the pile. Draft analysts say he’s good at reading blocks and following his assignment, something important in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Vanderbilt’s Ke'Shawn Vaughn is an option who might be available later. He isn’t quite as big but has the toughness required to get hard yards and could absorb some blows to keep Jacobs healthy and fresh.

This isn’t a full-on draft breakdown, so we won’t go down the list of every scheme fit available for selection. There aren’t many free agent dollars left, so it’s hard to see another runner coming in.

The Raiders can survive with the depth chart they’ve got, especially with fullback Alec Ingold able to carry the ball effectively when called upon. But the NFL is trending toward two back benefits, even when there’s an obvious alpha like Jacobs.

Gruden has historically preferred feeding multiple backs, as he did in his previous Raiders stint with Tyrone Wheatley and Napoleon Kauffman, and later with Wheatley and Charlie Garner.

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly meet virtually with Herbert]

Gruden has also ridden one back pretty hard, as he did with Cadillac Williams while with Tampa Bay.

The Raiders are more than capable of rolling with the crew they have but could use to make the backfield a little better before the 2020 season begins by filling a relatively low-ranking need.

NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with Oregon QB Justin Herbert before draft

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NFL rumors: Raiders meeting with Oregon QB Justin Herbert before draft

The Raiders are meeting with former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert on an official top-30 visit. Well, the term “visit” might be a stretch considering nobody is allowed inside NFL facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-draft meetings still are happening, but those face-to-face interactions now are done over FaceTime or Zoom or Skype or whatever video conferencing platform you prefer.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Herbert will be meeting with the Raiders in this way, as the Silver and Black try to refine their options in the NFL draft.

Each team gets 30 meetings during the pre-draft process, though they’re often used on players from lower rounds or with character questions they need to examine further.

This meeting is sure to raise some eyebrows considering Herbert’s position and eventual draft status, but this should be viewed as an exploratory exercise of the Raiders doing due diligence.

[RELATED: How Raiders' NFL free-agency signings could impact returning players]

Herbert should be taken in the NFL draft’s top 10, well before the Raiders draft at Nos. 12 and 19. The Raiders have the capital to trade up in the draft if they choose, but it would be costly to move up high enough to get beyond the quarterback starved Miami Dolphins at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6.

They also have a quality quarterback room with Derek Carr as the starter and Marcus Mariota as the backup. There are far more pressing needs at receiver, cornerback and safety and maybe defensive line that could use talent available in the first round.

It’s possible the Raiders draft a quarterback later in the draft, but it seems unlikely in the first round.

Let’s also recall that the Raiders met with top quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins before last year’s draft and didn’t take either guy.

While the Raiders don’t have an immediate need at quarterback, general manager Mike Mayock always says the team will consider upgrades at every position. Head coach Jon Gruden loves meeting with quarterbacks and learning how they think.

Herbert is ranked high among the NFL draft’s best options at quarterback, typically third behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. He has ideal size for a quarterback at 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds, with great arm strength and field vision. He can throw on the move and is confident throwing the ball downfield and making smart decisions going with shorter and intermediate options.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s latest mock draft has Herbert going No. 5 to the Dolphins.

NFL Network also reported that Herbert has a video conference scheduled with the Bolts.