For the Oakland Raiders this is what the season has come down to. Their biggest weakness the last seven years must become their greatest strength this Sunday. Much like the Raiders, the Jacksonville Jaguars rely on their running game. Unlike the Raiders, the Jaguars are a one man show with regards to their ground game.
Therefore, the solution is simple: Stop Maurice Jones-Drew. Beat the Jaguars.
Jacksonville enters Sunday’s contest having won 7 and lost 5 on the season. Look no further than how MJD has faired in those 5 losses to know what the secret is to beating the Jags.
In 4 of the 5 L’s, Jones-Drew was held below 100 yards rushing. On the flip side, in 5 of 7 Jacksonville wins, MJD has gone over 100 yards on the ground.
Really nothing fancy there. John Marshall knows all of this. John Henderson is very aware of it and rest assured the entire defense has had it beaten into their heads this week. But stopping the Oakland native and De La Salle alum is a different story all together.
What is most important is that Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly set the tone up front. Another effort like the one against the Chargers last week is mandatory for the playoff hopes to remain alive this week. Though it should be noted that the Silver and Black will find it a little more difficult to push around the Jaguars like they did the soft Bolts.
As for the offense, all Tom Cable should have done this week is throw on the game tape from last Sunday and simply finished team meetings by saying, “Do it again”. For the Raiders to win they have to run. By now that’s as obvious to the world as it is to the Broncos that Josh McDaniels was a mistake.
Oakland’s ball control offense should be able to impose its will on a less than stout Jacksonville run defense. So long as the men in the trenches don’t get cocky and provided Darren McFadden and Michael Bush run with purpose, we should see a repeat of last week’s offensive showing.
But since this is a playoff type game, expect a playoff type atmosphere. This one looks to be a close contest and if that’s the case all of Raider Nation will have its eyes on you, Sebastian Janikowski. Clutch kicking is mandatory this time of year and that includes Shane Lechler as well.
Come to think of it, the Raiders’ special teams have been as important an element in their success as any other aspect of the game. Jacoby Ford has truly been a difference maker. His clutch grabs and house call returns have turned the tide in many a contest.
To sum it all up, stopping MJD is the key but playing up in every aspect of the game is vital. If these Raiders want to be in the postseason then they’ve got to start playing like a playoff team every week from here out.
Topics: Darren McFadden, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacoby Ford, John Henderson, John Marshall, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Bush, Oakland Raiders, Richard Seymour, Sebastian Janikowski, Shane Lechler, Tom Cable, Tommy Kelly