The 3-2 Las Vegas Raiders will host the 4-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7 at their brand-new home turf, Allegiant Stadium.
The Raiders had Week 6 off as their bye week. They pulled off a huge upset in Week 5 by going on the road and defeating the Kansas City Chiefs by a final score of 40-32. Some were calling it the biggest win of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s career.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, blew out the Green Bay Packers in Week 6 after losing to the Chicago Bears in Week 5. The Raiders-Buccaneers game was originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football on NBC, but it has since been moved to an afternoon game that will be aired on FOX.
With the Raiders-Buccaneers game almost here, let’s take a look at four bold predictions for the contest from a Las Vegas point of view.
1. Derek Carr throws for over 300 yards and two touchdowns
Derek Carr is off to a great start for the Raiders in his second season under head coach Jon Gruden. He’s thrown for 1,442 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 73.1 percent of his passes. The 29-year-old has only tossed one interception as well.
The last time Carr faced the Buccaneers, he had the best game of his career. The Raiders star threw for 513 yards and four touchdowns back on Oct. 30, 2016. The Raiders defeated the Buccaneers by a final score of 30-24 behind Carr’s heroics.
While today’s version of the Buccaneers’ defense is better than the 2016 version Carr faced, look for the veteran passer to have another stellar game this Sunday. Carr is in a really good groove at the moment and eager to lead the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Against the Buccaneers, look for Carr to throw for over 300 yards and connect on two touchdown passes.
2. Raiders pick off Tom Brady two times
In his first season with the Buccaneers, Tom Brady has thrown for 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. The oldest player in the NFL continues to show that he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the league despite no longer being on the New England Patriots and having a new set of playmakers to throw to.
While Brady has looked good with the Buccaneers thus far, the travel from Florida to Nevada isn’t going to be kind on the future Hall of Famer. West Coast games for old quarterbacks are hard for visiting teams, so look for the Raiders to pick off Brady two times in this matchup.
The Buccaneers’ two losses on the season have come on the road and Brady didn’t look particularly sharp against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 and the Bears in Week 5. Expect that trend to continue in Week 7 against the Raiders, who are playing with confidence on defense after defeating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 5.
3. Darren Waller catches six balls for at least one TD
Raiders tight end Darren Waller and Carr have developed a nice rapport early in the season. The 6-foot-6 playmaker has caught 34 balls on the season for 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Against the Buccaneers, look for Waller to catch at least six balls and reach the end zone once. He’s a matchup nightmare in the middle of the field due to his size, speed and elite ball skills. Carr, though he’s really good at spreading the ball around, has targeted Waller 46 times this season. That is by far the most on the team, so you can tell that Carr really trusts Waller.
Waller has a chance to make his first Pro Bowl team this season if he continues to play well. Against what might be a tired Buccaneers defense due to the time change and travel, look for Waller to have another excellent game and build his Pro Bowl profile.
4. Raiders beat Buccaneers to improve to 4-2
The Raiders will defeat the Buccaneers in Week 7 to improve to 4-2 on the season. The team likely used its bye week to prepare for Tampa Bay and the players will be hungry to get back on the field after a huge Week 5 win over the Chiefs.
The Raiders lead the all-time series against the Buccaneers 7-3. Given Carr’s efficient play to begin the season and his growing rapport with Gruden and Waller, it’s hard to envision Tampa Bay coming to Las Vegas and defeating the Raiders given the travel and time change, not to mention Buccaneers star wideout Mike Evans is still dealing with an ankle injury and may not be 100 percent going up against the Raiders’ secondary.
A few weeks ago, Carr went on a passionate postgame rant where he said he’s sick of losing. The team responded by defeating the mighty Chiefs, so look out for Las Vegas moving forward.