The Oakland Raiders have a huge first game of the 2017 NFL season against the Tennessee Titans. Here are the five keys to victory for the Silver and Black.
Sunday is when it all begins for the Oakland Raiders. They will play their first game of the 2017 NFL season against a worthy adversary on the road in the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff from Nissan Stadium in Nashville will be at 10:00 a.m. PT on September 10.
This is an intriguing game, as both teams should be in the mix for AFC playoff spots. Oakland reached the playoffs last year after going 12-4. While that was the best record in Raiders football in 14 years, it did not yield a playoff victory thanks to a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Derek Carr.
For Tennessee, this team that was once the worst team in football in 2014 came a game away from winning the AFC South in 2016. Tennessee has been rebuilt very well by general manager Jon Robinson. It helps that the Titans have their own franchise quarterback in 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
This feels like a game that will be decided on the final series. Both teams are evenly matched, with Oakland being maybe slightly better. However, this one is in Nashville and that helps the Titans. Here are the five keys to victory for the Silver and Black on Sunday.
Avoid giving up the big play
One thing that wrecked the Raiders’ defense last year was giving the big play far too often. They do happen to the best of teams. That’s just part of playing football. However, Oakland cannot let the Titans get into the end zone on drives that last a few plays because of a miscommunication in the back-end.
Assistant head coach and defensive assistant John Pagano has come over from the Chargers organization to help preach accountability and discipline in the Raiders secondary. Pagano did a fine job as the former San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator. He specializes in coaching defensive backs. Though it hasn’t been the easiest of preseasons for the Raiders defense, we have seen improvement in minimizing the big play.
While it is important to keep these explosive plays to a minimum against you in any game, it’s even more important Week 1 against the Titans. Not to say that the Titans are a dink and dunk offense, but their scoring drives under offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie are methodical and well-orchestrated.
That means Tennessee will get into the end zone, albeit after a putting together and an eight to 12-play drive. Oakland’s offense is set up to thrive in putting together the splash play if need be. If the Raiders have to come up with points in this game in a hurry, that’s fine. But the team cannot let the Titans offense have highlight play after highlight play offensively to win this one on the road.