By Shawn Lealos

The Oakland Raiders opened the 2017 NFL season as one of the favorites to make the Super Bowl for the AFC, behind only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. However, it’s now their bye week and they have a losing record (4-5). The Raiders sit in second place in the AFC West, where only the Kansas City Chiefs have a winning record. However, coming off a win three weeks ago over the Chiefs and an impressive win against the Miami Dolphins right before their bye, the Raiders are hoping to have a successful final stretch of the season to reach the NFL playoffs, where everyone starts over again.

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Can Obi Melifonwu Save The Raiders Defense?

The biggest problem with the Oakland Raiders this season has been the struggles of the defensive secondary. They have injuries riddling their entire secondary, and even have their star linebacker struggling as well. Luckily, there might be a savior coming in the second half of the NFL season. The Raiders drafted Obi Melifonwu in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Connecticut. However injuries kept him out of action until the Dolphins game this past week. This is because the Raiders put the rookie on their IR following knee surgery and the Dolphins game was the first they could activate him.

In that game, the safety recorded three total tackles in the first NFL action of his career. Melifonwu can step right in and replace the slower Reggie Nelson in the Raiders defense. He can also work at the cornerback position if needed. He is fast and explosive, and as long as his knee injury is behind him, Melifonwu can finally provide the Raiders with the star defensive back they have lacked this season.

Did The Raiders’ Offensive Line Allow Derek Carr’s Injury?

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A huge news brief broke out this week concerning the Raiders and the chemistry of the football team. Derek Carr was hurt earlier this season when he took a hard hit to his back against the Broncos. A strange source—Miko Grimes, the wife of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes—said that the Raiders offensive line refused to protect Carr on that play because they were seeking revenge against him after a locker room fight. Grimes made the comments on “The Breakfast Club,” where she said that Carr told his teammates to stand during the National Anthem and they refused. The injury allegedly came as revenge for Carr’s stand.

However, Grimes said the fight came before a Monday Night Football game, which the Raiders have not played in yet this season. The offensive linemen all sat during the National Anthem in Week 3 and the injury occurred in Week 4. Left tackle Donald Penn took to Twitter and said that “people will make up lies” to get attention. Raiders cornerback Antonio Hamilton also came out to defend his quarterback, saying that the only thing that Grimes said that was true was that Carr was a “man of God,” while everything else was a lie. Grimes later said that her source was a guest on her own podcast.

Mexico City Game Against Patriots Coming Up Next

As soon as the Raiders come off their bye week, they head down to Mexico City to face off with the Patriots. The Patriots are 6-2 and in first place in the AFC East, although the Buffalo Bills are only one game back. The Raiders are 4-5 and are in second place in the AFC West, but could be three games out of first if the Chiefs handle the New York Giants. That makes this a must-win game for the Raiders if they want to catch the Chiefs this season.

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This game is already a competitive disadvantage for the Raiders since it is the third time in four seasons that they lose a home game to play in another country. With one less home game than most other teams in the NFL, they need all the wins they can get away from their home turf.