Kickoff: 1:15 pm PDT - U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
TV: Channel: 5 Channel: 13 Channel: 46 (1550, 105.3)
Raiders Radio: Compass Media Networks-listen online here
Line: Arizona -4½ (39½o/u)
With the first two games of the NFL regular season under the belt, the Raiders find themselves at 1-1. In reality though, for this team, I think those first two game are really an extension of the preseason. Those first two games had the Raiders players and coaches trying to figure out which part s to fit where and who the leaders would be and what kinds of schemes would work best where.
Many of those answers have been answered so far and we will now see today if the Raiders on both sides of the ball can maintain some solid consistency against a team reeling from a 41-7 shellacking at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons last week.
The Raiders theme, beginning with training camp and all the way through to last week's game, when the players or coaches have been polled, has been that this team is different and has turned the corner on their losing ways and bad habits of yesteryear(s). Oh how so much I want to buy that, but the memories of the last several years are not easily put aside. This game, this one game, to be sure, will not change that yet, but it will be the first brick in the wall of building that foundation of turning the corner.
The areas that will be confirming that real change has finally occurred as far as how this team is currently constructed are: 1- Proper, NFL caliber play calling that is able to modify and adjust on the fly-Hue Jackson. 2- Power running and Darren McFadden. It's only two games and is far too early to declare the corner tuned here, but it is sure looking like we have a different runner and and effective scheme properly utilizing the available talent. Now we get Bush back and the Raiders offense can start establishing its identity. Remember what Hue did for Ray Rice and if Hue is having the same effect on DMAC, then the Raiders weak passing offensive line will be neutralized. 3- Run defense. Having already faced Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson in the first two weeks, the run D is showing signs of shedding the ridiculously poor habits of the previous years. Starting with the 2nd half of the Rams game, something seemed to finally click with the Raiders run defense and they were able to make successful adjustments for the first time in years. The players may be better, but so are the coaching, discipline and learning.
TheRaiderWay's key match-ups:
Fitzgerald vs. Nnamdi: This looks like one of the better positional match-ups of the week. Simply put, these are two of the best at their positions and this should be an epic classic to watch.
McFadden vs. Arizona run D: McFadden is averaging 4.7 yards per carry for the season -- and the Cardinals are allowing 153 yards a game on the ground to go along with their previous-Raiders-years-type missed assignments and sloppy tackling.
Zach Miller vs. Adrian Wilson: I,m really expecting a huge performance by Zach today with his return to Zona and with Bruce at the helm. Zach has proven himself over the last 3 years to be Raiders' best receiver. Wilson is one of the best strong safeties in the NFL. He had two interceptions in the 2010 opener to prove himself capable of defending the pass as well as being an excellent run-stuffer. If the Raiders can perfect their play-action passes, they can slow down Wilson and allow Bruce to find Zack on his famous seam routs in the Red Zone.
What do you think Nation? Are the Raiders finally, after seasons of futility, beginning to turn the corner?