Hopes were high to start the season in Oakland. Hue Jackson had brought a bully’s swagger back into the East Bay. After the exciting addition of a new GM and a young coach, Raider Nation was ready for the post season. How could the Raiders fail to make a playoff run? The offense was coming off a red hot season lead by explosive running back Darren McFadden, the once weak and feeble defense gained the advantage of having two veteran corners with something to prove, and a defensive minded coach to lead this squad in stopping the run. However, the Football Gods had other plans for the Raiders. Two games into the season the Raiders once feared run game was exposed as a fraud, compliments of Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp. The season of the offense was immediately thrust onto the shoulders of Carson Palmer. Palmer faced the almost impossible task of keeping up with opposing offenses who confidently stomped on the Raider’s injury plagued defense.
As is the cruel nature of the NFL, the Raiders must travel to Baltimore and face a real playoff contender. The Ravens running game is not hindered by an insane offensive coordinator, the passing game is supported by a solid offensive line, the defense is built around stopping the run, and the secondary doesn’t crumble like Michael Huff when he tries to tackle. With that said the Ravens are a beatable team. Their quarterback Joe Flacco makes Palmer-like mistakes in the clutch and the defense has also been bitten by the injury bug. The Raiders will have to be able to move the ball offensively with Taiwan Jones getting the start at running back.
With the injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, the Raiders find themselves in a rough situation. They had been clinging on to life in the AFC West with a crippled defense, and now must deal with a just as crippled offense. The Raiders will most likely go to a no-huddle pass happy game right out of the gates. Once again Carson Palmer will be given the responsibility of throwing the ball 40-60 times against this Ravens defense. Taiwan Jones will also have a chance to show himself as a NFL running back. With any luck Taiwan Jones will come out playing like he has something to prove, but this contest will most likely be decided by the arm of Carson Palmer.
A loss on Sunday against a Baltimore Raven’s team will be the final nail in the Raider’s coffin. This is a must win game for Oakland. The Raiders will have to earn this one on the road as they travel to the east coast to face the Ravens. It wont be easy by any means, but if they find a way to pull off a win then they will keep themselves clinging to life in the ever changing AFC West.