Within a span of about six weeks, the New Orleans Saints went from pathetic to playoff contender. After knocking off the Falcons, the last of the remaining unbeaten in the NFL, the Saints carry their momentum to the Bay to take on the Oakland Raiders in the rain.
NFLWeather.com forecasts a 50% of showers and a high near 60 for Sunday’s late afternoon kickoff. But with mostly cloudy skies on a dreary and damp day inside the Oakland Coliseum, it might be tough for the resurgent Saints to get rolling.
The Saints (4-5) have thrived inside the comforting confines of the Superdome back home, but a soggy grass and straight dirt surface causes problems. Once again the Saints have one of the league’s most extraordinary passing offenses, ranked second with over 303 yards per game; typical Drew Brees numbers. But a driving rain will limit the number of deep balls and more importantly, number of passes thrown.
For as much of a reliable leader as Brees has been during this difficult season, surprisingly the most recent Saints success has been because of their unlikely running game. After Darren Sproles went down, it appeared Pierre Thomas would take the lead with Mark Ingram grinding it out on the goal line and short yardage. But that power package picked up a gem in Chris Ivory whose explosive versatility has been a pleasant surprise while playmaker Sproles continues to sit. New Orleans will likely disperse carries between the three backs to establish the run game going early on in the rain against a defense that surrenders 119 yards on the ground, and 55 points to the Baltimore Ravens a week ago. Fantasy Footballers best steer clear.
The Raiders (3-6) need to find a durable replacement for Darren McFadden, likely out nursing his ankle injury and a similar situation for Mike Goodson. Marcel Reece is the starter with Jeremy Stewart and Taiwan Jones on his tail. With showers expected, it is imperative one back steps up to take some pressure off quarterback Carson Palmer, Currently the Oakland rushing game is ranked dead last in the league.
Averaging over 288 passing yards a game, the Oakland offense would prefer to grind out consecutive four to five yard gains rather than palce themselves in a position to lose the turnover battle due to slick footballs resulting in interceptions. The Raiders’ receivers have let a number of tipped passes turn to INT’s and if that trend continues against the Saints, even the rain can’t only hold back Brees forever. A steady, boring ground game that eats up chunks of the clock will ultimately be the driving factor between both sides. Again, fantasy footballers should look elsewhere.
Oakland is, however, 2-0 in their last two rain games at home according to the NFLWeather historical analytics. While the Saints have been sheltered from the rain by the Superdome for the past three seasons. If any fan base can passionately get behind their team in a frigid downpour, it’d be the Silver and Black. This is Black Hole weather.