NEW ORLEANS (4-5) At OAKLAND (3-6)Sunday, 4:05 p.m., FOXOPENING LINE - Saints by 6 12RECORD VS. SPREAD - New Orleans 5-4; Oakland 3-6SERIES RECORD - Tied 5-5-1AP PRO32 RANKING - Saints No. 13; Raiders No. 30LAST MEETING - Saints beat Raiders 34-3, Oct. 12, 2008LAST WEEK - Saints beat Falcons 31-27; Raiders lost at Ravens 55-20STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Saints (66.9 percent) and Raiders (66.6 percent) pass ball more than any other teams in NFL. ... New Orleans QB Drew Brees won last six starts vs. Raiders, completing 70.4 percent of passes for 1,248 yards, 13 TDs and 0 INTs for 120.7 rating. ... Brees holds NFL records with TD passes in 52 straight games and 20 or more completions in 45 straight. ... New Orleans allowed at least 400 yards of offense in all nine games. ... Saints have scored TDs on NFL-best 71 percent of their red zone drives this season. ... Saints RB Chris Ivory had 56-yard run last week, longest for New Orleans since 2006. ... Saints TE Jimmy Graham caught seven passes for 146 yards and two TDs vs. Atlanta. ... Oakland allowed 97 points past two weeks, most for franchise since 1961. ... Raiders QB Carson Palmer threw for personal-best 782 yards past two games and looking to string together three straight 300-yard games for first time. ... Oakland TE Brandon Myers second in NFL with 23 catches in fourth quarter. ... Raiders FB Marcel Reece has 15 receptions past two weeks. ... Oakland scored in last 2 minutes of first half in all nine games.
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”