This afternoon the Oakland Raiders will take the field in Atlanta. The 5-0 Falcons, featuring a top tier quarterback, running back, tight end, and receiving duo, will look to defend their home turf. An Oakland squad that is desperately trying to find themselves have a huge opportunity to make a statement. A win today would seemingly cause a springboard effect propelling the Raiders to play inspired football for the rest of the season. Two very different teams, both sporting silver and white, can come out of the locker room today.
Any sports commentator from CBS to ESPN will tell you that this game is already over. They will say the Raiders lack a defense and they don’t even have the lethal run game they once prided themselves upon. One will hear of the power and speed the Falcons have displayed all season long. Nobody will speak of the underdog victories Oakland has experienced throughout the past decade of mediocrity. Nobody will recall the wins against a potent Bengals offense (led by Carson Palmer at the time) and the hard hitting Steelers team in 2010. The point is that Oakland has beaten these odds before. To prove the commentators wrong the Raiders must remember their 5 keys to victory.
5) Do not bend and do not break! The bend, but don’t break defense is fine if a defense can make that crucial red zone stop. However, why rely on the offense stalling out when the defense can just opt to play like men and make the stop on the other side of the field. The Raiders cannot afford to let Matt Ryan drive his team down the field over and over again in the footsteps of Peyton Manning and Ryan Tannehill. The only way to stop this is to play aggresively. Atlanta’s offense will score. So why not make up for it by getting a couple takeaways, and hopefully the first interception of the season. In the end a couple breaks are fine as long as the turnover battle is bent in Oakland’s favor.
4) The Raiders must limit the run game! A team who can run the ball with ease will most likely have the clock on their side. The Raiders must win the clock so stopping the run is vital. This means the impossible must happen and Oakland will have to use proper form tackles against the thick Michael Turner. Arm tackles will not bring down this bruising back which means the players must hit and wrap up. Without wrapping up players like Michael Huff will bounce off Turner like Rihanna bounces off Chris Brown (Hopefully Huff comes back too).
3) The Raiders must put pressure on Matt Ryan! Oakland’s defensive line will have to make up for the weak secondary. With the addition of Andre Carter the line may be playing with a new spark. In order to come away with a win the big guys must play inspired football. This cannot be another showing of stand up and play patty cake with the offensive line. These guys will have to be playing like Greg Williams is on the sideline shouting for heads to be taken off. Raider Nation witnessed, for whatever reason it is, that the Raiders do tend to play better and more inspired on the road. Lets hope this applies to the defensive line this afternoon.
2) The coaches cannot be conventional! Oakland is 1-3 it is pretty obvious to see that some kind of spark is needed to stay competitive in the west. That means that when it is fourth and inches, Dennis Allen, must trust his offense. Any good offense should have a selection of plays to be capable of picking up at least two yards. Not only does a fourth down conversion result in a first down, but also a huge swing in momentum and deflated defense. Dennis Allen also has a responsibility as head coach to control the impenitent child known as Greg Knapp. Limiting the moronic defamation of his own offense will be a difficult task for Allen given the circumstances, but considering Allen must take the blame in the press conference then he might as well do his best.
1) The Raiders must win the time of possession! Winning the clock could win the game for Oakland. The single key to doing this will be to dominate the run game. This means Darren McFadden must get a solid amount of carries in order for him to do damage to the Falcons weak rushing defense. This could very well be McFadden’s biggest game of the season as long as Oakland isn’t playing catch up all day. The sooner this game ends the better. More time on the clock means more points for the Falcons.
Chances are this game could be over in the first quarter. However, if Dennis Allen gives JBB a read over before the game then he may be able to prevent a catastrophic defeat. Despite all of the negativity currently shrouding the silver and black, there is still a talented core of talent at the heart of this squad. A strong run game and opportunistic defense could cost the dirty birds their first loss of the season. A win would also bring to life an underdog team filled with potential. Time will tell as week 6 will soon come to pass and another week of football will ensue. Until then Raider Nation will be flying the skull and crossbones win, lose, or tie.
P.S. Start McFadden, Carson Palmer, and sadly also start Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and Roddy White.