Raider Football is here people!! Get your glasses filled and your Raider Nation accessories out of the closet! I think this is going to be a very good game. I very much think that the odds makers are wrong with their point spread favoring Denver by 3 points, but I do think they are right on the closeness of the game. I think the Raiders will win this one (I will note my obvious bias here) by 7 points or less. I would love to see another blow out win like the two we delivered last year but I do not see that happening tonight. I can tell you this, whoever wins this game will win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Denver getting Elvis Dummerville back is one big reason why I think this game will be close, and Von Miller is another even bigger reason. I believe that we will see a very good match up between Veldheer and Elvis. Veldheer has already mentioned leverage and getting low to defend against Dummerville which is a very good sign. The problem is that it is a whole different thing actually doing it instead of just talking about it. At 6'8 315lbs Veldheer is a beast and if he gets low enough and gets his hands on Elvis I think he can win this match up. Not every play though, Elvis will make a play sometime in the game that puts Campbell on his back. The trick will be to limit those plays.
I am actually a lot more worried about the opposite side. Khalif Barnes played a whole lot better in the last 2 preseason games than he did in the first 2. However, now it is for real and we need to see decent blocking to win this game. Von Miller has a combination of speed and strength that will test Barnes to the fullest. I also would not doubt seeing Denver move Dummerville over to this side to get a more favorable match up at times. Barnes is going to have a really long day in the pass blocking department. However I do think Barnes and Veldheer will have the upper hand in run defense.
I think both Elvis and Von are going to be very aggressive tonight, and I believe the Raiders offensive line is going to be able to use that against them in the run game. One step the wrong way and our running backs will be into you or past you, so being over aggressive at the line of scrimmage should help create some running lanes. We will also be able to counter attack that aggressiveness with screens, especially utilizing Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones here. At times our offensive line, Barnes especially, will be over matched. The best way to help Barnes, and the rest of the line, is to let his rusher past and toss it over his head. The more times the right side is burned the less aggressive they will have to be. Less aggressive against Khalif is a recipe for success for the Raiders.
Now for Kyle Orton. I do not think there has been a more under rated passer in this league in the past decade. Donovan Mcnabb was treated worse in his hay day, but he was at least respected for his ability to play. It was his inability to win the big game that doomed him to being disrespected and under rated. With Orton he is not respected as a passer by many people, but I am one that does respect him. Kyle is more than just a game manager, whether most people want to give him credit or not. He is great with the short passing game which can be very hard to defend. However, if you start getting up in the receivers faces too much then he is more than willing to toss it over the top.
He is accurate and smart, but he is not mobile. If we get in his head we can disrupt his thinking. When you are dealing with intelligent quarterbacks the best way to get in their head is to get them on there backs. The more we hit him the quicker he will get the passes out, and when you rush things mistakes happen. So lets see our lauded defensive line beat up on Denver's offense. We need to show them who is boss, and nobody is a bigger boss for us on the field than Richard Seymour. We need him to get in the thick of things and take on some blockers and clog up the middle. If we can stop the run and force them to pass, and knock Orton sideways with punishing hits we will be just fine tonight.
Lets hope for a great game by our Raiders. I will be willing to settle for just good enough though. Its high time to stop this 8 year streak of losing our openers, not to mention our awfulness on nationally televised games. If we want to show we are different team now, winning our first game of the year on National Television is the way to do it. I know I will be on the edge of my seat watching every play, and I am sure you will be too. Lets win this game in the trenches, because if we do I believe everything else will fall into place.