The "dress rehearsal" of the NFL is among us - that hallowed third preseason game where the starters actually play more than a quarter or so before shutting everyone down for another week. Funny, because no other league does anything like that to my recollection. But that's neither here nor there. The Bears' opponent this week, on a late-night Friday game (and really, who the blank starts an NFL game at 10:00 PM CT?), is the Oakland Raiders.
Last Year: 4-12, which puts them at 3rd place in the AFC West. I know, four wins isn't last place. Color me shocked.
When Last We Met: I'm sure you blacked this one out since it was the start of the Caleb Hanie Era post-Jay-Cutler-thumb-injury, but the Bears lost the first game of that era 25-20 to begin that inexorable slide out of the playoffs. Michael Bush ran in the game clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Raiders up 25-13, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked six field goals before that.
Total Yards: 5504 (18th)
Total Points: 290 (26th)
Rushing Yards: 1420 (28th)
Passing Yards: 4084 (8th)
Yep. You read that right - the Raiders had the 8th-most passing yards, on the 5th most attempts and with the 13th most touchdowns. I guess the middle-of-the-road Net Yards per Attempt of 6.2 will do that to offensive numbers. It's one of the reasons Carson Palmer took his talents to the desert and the show now belongs to Terrelle Pryor, trade pickup Matt Flynn and draft pick Tyler Wilson. Palmer wasn't awful, but the Raiders need some talent in that offense, and they've got enough young arms on the roster that maybe one of them can take hold of the starting job.
There still isn't a whole lot of offensive weaponry here as is; Darren McFadden's still kicking, and they added Rashad Jennings to back him up, but they lost last year's second-leading receiver in Darrius Heyward-Bey (behind Denarius Moore and tight end Brandon Myers). The Raiders had 14 different players catch a pass last season - with the addition of Josh Cribbs and another year of Juron Criner, can they finally get some consistency in the receiving corps?
Total Yards: 5672 (18th)
Total Points: 443 (28th)
Rushing Yards: 1897 (18th)
Passing Yards: 3775 (20th)
The Raiders traded down from the #3 overall pick to pick up D.J. Hayden, and also added linebacker Sio Moore in the third round. Aside from that... The Raiders' defense doesn't do much for me, really. They aren't necessarily a good defense, but they make enough plays and have an okay player in Tyvon Branch. But they don't get after the quarterback (25 sacks all last season) and they don't generate enough takeaways (11 picks, 9 forced fumbles). They picked up Chris Kluwe in the offseason, which should help them with field position (though they started on their 31.6 on average on defense, which is second in the league). Where they got gashed is giving up 2.2 points per drive, which is the most in the NFL.
But, it's a new year, and they have new pieces, so we'll see what happens. It's still early and there's a lot of sample size to go.
If the Bears do this...
I think at this point, we just want to see the Bears get through healthy and execute a few good drives. Preferably without a sack or interception. First roster cuts will be after this game, so some bubble guys/bottom of the roster guys may get one final shot, and we'll probably get our first looks at Jordan Palmer! (/fake excitement)
But we should also get a good look at how Jon Bostic responds to getting hit with a fine, as well as if Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton pick up on their good performances from last week (and the same goes for Kyle Long and Jordan Mills).
If the Raiders do this...
If Pryor gets some snaps, the Bears might get a chance to play against some read option looks, which might not be a bad thing. But if the Raiders start getting sacks, or if the Bears offense stalls out a bit, there'll be a bit of patching up going on at Halas Hall this weekend.
We're almost there, guys, just another two of these.