Going into the 2013 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders were once again expected to be one of the league’s worst teams. Their previous tack record certainly didn’t project success onto this season, considering that they haven’t had a winning record since 2002. And with a roster full of holdovers from last year’s 4-12 squad, there was little enthusiasm entering 2013.
But here we are two games into the regular season, and there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The reason why is third-year QB Terrelle Pryor, who, before the preseason, was merely projected to be Matt Flynn’s backup. However, the 24-year-old distinguished himself by showing flashes of brilliance and, combined with Flynn’s poor play/injuries, grabbed the starting job.
Since taking over the starting reigns, Pryor has led Oakland to a 1-1 record, which may not immediately look impressive – especially when their lone win comes from the atrocious Jacksonville Jaguars. However, a narrow 21-17 loss at Indianapolis says more about this team than anything. After all, Indy made the playoffs last season and should battle for a postseason berth this year too.
As for his stats, Pryor has compiled 343 passing yards, 162 rushing yards, a touchdown pass and two interceptions. Obviously the passing stats leave something to be desired, however, the 81 rushing YPG stat is what has everybody’s attention. But is a quarterback with great legs and a developing throwing ability enough to help the Raiders compete with the league’s elite teams? Looking at the immediate future, do they have any chance to beat Denver on Monday night?
Well if you’re looking at the sportsbooks, the odds aren’t good. We at GTBets.eu have Denver as a -15 favorite, which is the widest spread in the league this week. And it’s hard to bet against Peyton Manning and Co. when you consider what they did to the Ravens and Giants. Few people would even put Oakland in the same class as these teams yet.
However, Pryor seems to have his head on straight going into this matchup and seems pretty focused. “Peyton’s great and I can’t let that get into mind,” he stated. “I have to play my game and focus on my team. He’s going to make big plays and I can’t go in there and say, ‘I’m going to fire back too, because he is.’ I need to go down for down, one play at a time, and take my time. That will be a lot better than going in and trying to match back to back and force some things.
“I don’t want to get too excited about a stage or anything like that. At the end of the day, I still have to drop back and play quarterback and help this team win. I don’t want to get too excited. I know there’s a big task ahead against one of the greatest quarterbacks ever; Peyton’s a Hall of Famer. I just have to go handle my business as 1/11th of the offense and get us in good position to score.”
Pryor makes a good point about only being part of the offense. After all, he does have a rejuvenated Darren McFadden helping him out in the backfield. Through the first two games, McFadden has 177 yards and a TD on 36 carries, along with 7 receptions for 46 yards.
Of course, most eyes will be on Pryor rather than McFadden this Monday. And while nobody’s really picking the Raiders to win, they’ll be expecting another entertaining performance by the Raiders new QB. Now the only question is if Pryor can live up to the hype that’s been set ahead of him.