An injury to Derek Carr toward the end of last season KO’d Oakland’s title aspirations but the quarterback’s return has the Raiders looking like a serious Super Bowl contender. Carr and Oakland will try to remain unbeaten under the glare of a national spotlight when they travel cross country to visit the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Carr will make his 50th NFL start and has a chance to reach the .500 mark with a victory — no small feat for a player who began his career with 10 consecutive defeats. “Whenever you start 0-10, it usually doesn’t end well, but I’m glad that we’re trending in the right direction,” said Carr, who is 14-3 in his last 17 starts. “That first year, as we all know, was rough for everybody. To be able to win some more games since that day, it’s a good thing.” Washington laid an egg in its season opener, a 30-17 loss at home to Philadelphia, but averted an 0-2 start by scoring late in a 27-20 win at the Los Angeles Rams a week ago. “Oh, we’re excited,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of facing Oakland. “I think losing our opener — home opener against Philadelphia — hurt a little bit and we’re excited to get our next home game. We know it’s going to be a great test.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Raiders -3. O/U: 54
ABOUT THE RAIDERS (2-0): Marshawn Lynch, who came out of retirement to join his hometown team, rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 45-20 drubbing of the New York Jets in helping Oakland pile up 180 yards on the ground. Carr, who broke his leg in Week 16 last season, tossed three scoring passes to Michael Crabtree against the Jets and has five TD passes against zero interceptions after throwing only six picks in 2016. Former No. 4 overall pick Amari Cooper is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to provide a deep threat for Carr, who has a 126.5 passing rating through two games. Defensive end Khalil Mack leads the defense — he notched a sack last week to give him a league-best 27 since the start of 2015.
ABOUT THE REDSKINS (1-1): Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season but is off to a slow start after losing his starting wideouts in free agency and trying to establish a rapport with Terrelle Pryor. Tight end Jordan Reed and starting running back Rob Kelley are both questionable due to injuries, but third-down back Chris Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine filled in nicely for a ground game that produced 229 yards against the Rams. Washington is permitting only 77.5 yards rushing but was gashed for 307 yards through the air by second-year quarterback Carson Wentz in the season opener. Top cornerback Josh Norman injured his shoulder in the victory over the Rams and was limited in Wednesday’s practice session.
1. Carr needs four scoring passes to become the fifth QB in league history with 90 in his first 50 games.
2. Cousins has throwing for 1,549 yards and 10 TDs in his last five games against AFC opponents.
3. Crabtree has 20 scoring passes since the start of the 2015 season, tying him for fourth in the NFL in that span.
PREDICTION: Raiders 30, Redskins 26