By Joseph Fazio
Oakland Raiders (3-4) at Buffalo Bills (4-2) (CBS, 1 P.M., Sunday)
The Oakland Raiders are looking to move up in the rankings when they head to New Era Field to play the Buffalo Bills. The Raiders are coming off a huge win against the previously 5-1 Kansas City Chiefs. After losing their past four games, the Raiders seem to be back on their edge from last season. Quarterback Derek Carr had his best performance of the season last week, throwing for 417 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Amari Cooper will be a key player most likely being matched up against cornerback Marcus Peters. Cooper, who had 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City, has clearly become Carr’s No. 1 receiver.
The key part of Buffalo’s success this season has been its defense. Safety Micah Hyde is second in the league in interceptions with four. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, a rookie out of LSU, ranks third for passed defended with 22. The most helpful part for the Bills’ defense is they are one of the least penalized, ranking third allowing only 36 penalties. Last week against Tampa Bay, running back LeSean McCoy recorded his first touchdown of the season. McCoy will play a big role on offense, as Oakland has been struggling with its run defense. The Raiders average more than 110 rushing yards allowed per game. If McCoy can replicate what he did last week, the Raiders will have many problems against the Bills.
Prediction: Oakland 28, Buffalo 20
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Washington Redskins (3-3) (FOX, 3:25 P.M., Sunday)
This week features a matchup for the second-place position of the NFC East as the Cowboys play the Redskins. The Cowboys’ defense is at a major disadvantage with linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant listed as questionable. The big question will be whether safety Jeff Heath will continue to be the placekicker for the Cowboys because Dan Bailey is out. Quarterback Dak Prescott ranks fifth in the league with passing touchdowns wiafter an impressive three-touchdown game against the 49ers. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence continues to be the star player on the Cowboys’ defense. Lawrence has recorded a second-best 9.5 sacks in the NFL. Going up against quarterback Kirk Cousins, Lawrence will be the key player to disrupt Cousins’ passing game.
The Washington Redskins are coming off a tough Monday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the best record in the league. Cousins had an impressive game against the Eagles,, throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns. This week, Cousins will still have to watch out for Lawrence, who has the ability to rush the quarterback on almost every play. Cousins’ best threat will be his ability to accurately throw the ball to his receivers. He has a 68.2 completion percentage, fifth best in the league. Watch for Cousins to attack the short passing game this week if Lee and Durant do not play through their injuries .
Prediction: Washington 33, Dallas 24
Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2) (CBS, 12 P.M., Sunday)
After three consecutive wins, the Los Angeles Charges head up to Foxborough to play the AFC East’s first place team, the New England Patriots. Quarterback Philip Rivers has greatly improved his game in the past three games, including throwing for 1,816 passing yards, fifth-highest in the league. Running back Melvin Gordon has become one of the league’s best dual-threat running backs with seven all-purpose touchdowns and 622 all-purpose yards. On defense, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram is fourth in the league with 8.5 sacks. Behind him is defensive end Joey Bosa with 7.5 sacks, sixth best in the league. Wide receiver Keenan Allen will be a key player, going up against the weak New England secondary. If Rivers is able to push up the field against New England’s defense, he can create a close game.
Tom Brady and the Patriots are coming off a giant Super Bowl rematch against the Atlanta Falcons. Brady is still the league leader in passing yards with 2,208 yards. Wide receiver Chris Hogan has stepped up this season with Julian Edelman’s injury with five receiving touchdown. The Patriots’ defense had one of their best games this season against Atlanta, allowing only 343 total yards compared to allowing on average 426.7 yards per game. If the Patriots’ defense can have that same spark they had last week, New England will have almost no problem winning this game.
Prediction: New England 37, Los Angeles 20