Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pregame Stat of The Week for 10/02

The Raiders led the NFL in 2003 with 134 penalties. The Raiders led the NFL in 2004 with 134 penalties. In 2005, the Raiders are now on pace to set an NFL record of 192 penalties. Thus, penalties are my pregame stat of the week, right? Nah, that would be too easy. Anyhow, I already used that one.

Okay, so how about the running attack, since it was the subject of my latest rant? No, for some reason I’m not worried about that. I’ve just got this sudden zen-like feeling that, somewhere in the bowels of Alameda, Norv finally dropped the screwdriver and picked up a sledgehammer, and that the Raiders offense is going to light Dallas up like a Texas-sized Christmas tree.

No, my pregame stat of the week has to do with Drew Bledsoe and how many times we knock this Cowboy off his horse. Why has this human statue been so successful so far this year? Because Parcells and gang have put together an effective protection scheme that allows Bledsoe sufficient time and comfort to make clean strikes (for example, you rarely see them with three wide, and that’s because they’re stuffing the front to protect their statue). He is seeing the field well and connecting with a variety of targets.

Now come the Raiders, who have done a progressively good job of exerting pressure on the quarterback. Now it's time for a breakout game. There's no reason they can't disrupt and dismantle the Cowboys’ protection scheme. I see four sacks as being the key number, and that’s my pregame stat of the week. If Drew eats Coliseum grass four times, it will signify a turning of the tide for both teams. I’m banking on it. Put me down for Raiders 34, Cowboys 17.

Parting facts: The Raiders have only two sacks this year. Bledsoe has been sacked only six times this year. But the Raiders sacked him seven times in one game when he was with Buffalo last year. Four is a reasonable target this week.


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