The Oakland Raiders travel to Denver today to visit Peyton Manning and the defense built by Dennis Allen. Not only is this a huge divisional showdown between hated rivals, but this game will also reward the winner with a .500 record. Starting over from scratch is never what any team wants to do during the season. Although, given Oakland’s miserable start scratch sounds pretty damn good. A win this afternoon will provide the silver and black an opportunity to be at the forefront of the AFC West battle royall, and possibly put some fear into the Chargers before round two rolls around. However, before I start dreaming of Lombardis falling from the skies in Oakland lets visit the 5 keys to victory for beating the Donkeys.
5) The receiving corps needs to give Palmer a chance! With Heyward-Bey still reeling from that vicious hit last week the Raiders are missing their number one receiver. Not to mention Rod Streeter has also been sidelined with Jacoby Ford who hasn’t been seen by Raider Nation since the pre-season. Denarius Moore and Derek Hagan need to provide Palmer with viable options in the passing game. If not by doing it themselves they need to motivate players like rookie, Juron Criner. This Broncos defense will not allow Darren McFadden to run the ball if they do not fear the aerial attack.
4) Stupid mistakes cannot cost the Raiders the game! Last week against Pittsburgh was the smartest I have seen Oakland play in a long time. Dennis Allen finally showed that this squad can play disciplined football and it paid off. This week the Raiders face a strong and intimidating defense led by Von Miller, and a deadly passing attack fueled by weapons like Demarius Thomas. The Raiders are on a budget and they cannot afford penalties or turnovers.
3) Darren McFadden must perfect the Zone Running Scheme! Greg Knapp managed to quiet the Raider Nation last week by unveiling the new Run DMC. However, Knapp and McFadden must continue to stay on the same page. With the defense holding up like a house without walls, the offense needs to stay hot. The run game needs to feed the passing game and vice verse. McFadden will need to take advantage of the opportunities he gets today or the game will be lost. Traditionally McFadden performs extremely well at Mile High, and averages over 100 yards rushing there. This should bode well for the Raiders considering every time McFadden rushed over 100 yards last year the Raiders were 6-2.
2) The Defensive front must pressure Manning! Giving quarterbacks over 5 seconds in the pocket even with a good secondary is difficult to stop. Oakland’s secondary makes it near impossible. If Seymour and co. cannot dig deep and motivate themselves then this game will look just like the one in Miami. The Detroit Lions are a perfect example of what pressure on the quarterback can do. The secondary in Detroit very much resembles the one in Oakland. Despite the pathetic defensive backfield the Lions still managed to win games by putting Suh and Fairley in the face of a quarterback. Hopefully Oakland wont have to go 0-16 before they figure this out.
1) The secondary must make turnovers! Ok forget covering the receivers. The Raiders secondary couldn’t cover the wheelchair kid from the Backyard Football games. Instead the secondary should take risks on going for the pick. Aggressive play is the only way to stop a team that has the ability to nickel and dime the Raiders down the length of the football field. Tennehill can do it, so can every other quarterback in the NFL and the NCAA. If Micheal Huff can make a few ball hawking plays like he was drafted for then the Raiders can turn those into points and get the Broncos down early. This game will be won or lost on the defense.
The Raiders will be coming into Mile High carrying something the Broncos lack. The Raiders will be carrying over the momentum gained from last weeks win. Using Pittsburgh as a springboard is how Oakland will salvage this season, and they have the pieces to do so. Thin pieces, but pieces none the less.
P.S. Look for Denarius Moore, Derek Hagan, Darren McFadden, and Carson Palmer to have big fantasy days.