Coming of a bad loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, pity can be taken on the next opponent for the Detroit Lions. That next opponent if of course the Las Vegas Raiders to conclude Week 8 on "Monday Night Football", and the Lions are naturally heavy favorites.
The Raiders are 3-4 this season, but they are coming off a bad loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 2. Any loss to a rookie quarterback out of Division II making his first career start is bad, but the Raiders lost 30-12 to the Bears last Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo (back) was out, Brian Hoyer started and rookie Aidan O'Connell eventually played.
The Raiders naturally have some hope Garoppolo will be able to play against the Lions. An extra day before a Monday night game should only help.
On Wednesday morning, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network didn't have the most enthusiastically optimistic update on Garappolo's status for the game against the Lions. Even when Rapoport added it's his expectation Garoppolo should be able to start next Monday night, he sounded utterly unconvinced of even that half-committed statement.
Lions lined up to face Raiders' rookie quarterback if Jimmy Garoppolo can't go
The decision to start Hoyer over O'Connell last week was odd, and Hoyer proved it with his play. O'Connell wasn't overwhelmingly better than Hoyer against Chicago, but the rookie's passer rating was a lot better and at least there's some intrigue with him.
Dan Graziano of ESPN has reported, or essentially confirmed, that O'Connell would get the start against the Lions if Garoppolo is unable to go. As of Tuesday, Garoppolo had not been medically cleared.
"Las Vegas’ first official practice of the week won’t be until Thursday, so there’s extra time this week with the Monday game. But if Garoppolo can’t go this week, expect to see rookie Aidan O’Connell in his place instead of veteran Brian Hoyer, who struggled against a vulnerable Bears defense in Week 7 and was replaced with O’Connell late in the game."
O'Connell made his first NFL start when Garoppolo was out in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers, completing 24 of 39 passes for 238 yards with an interception and a rushing touchdown. So next Monday night would be his second career start if it happens, but there will be an uptick in difficulty against a better team on the road.
The direction the Raiders' quarterback situation goes won't move the needle going into next Monday night that much. If Garoppolo is good to go, that might narrow the point spread a little. The Lions won't be fearful of Hoyer or O'Connell if Garoppolo can't go, but facing a rookie quarterback is a generally preferred option and it just might happen for them in Week 8.