We started the season 1 and 0 for the first time since 2002 and you all know what that means. WE ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!! For those of you that are very sensitive and have trouble catching sarcasm when it is in written form, that was a joke. I am not saying there is no chance of a super bowl because we have the opportunity to win our division and therefore would have a chance to make it. Just making the point that I was not predicting us to be super bowl bound at this time. What I do want to predict is a victory at Buffalo this Sunday. Not because the Bills are not a good team though, I think they are. I just feel like our team is going to match up well against them.
Even though our run defense was good against the non existent running attack of the Denver Broncos I am still nervous about this aspect of our team. Buffalo has one of the most underrated runners in the entire league in Fred Jackson. They also have a second decent running back (Decent because he hasn't done much yet but has lots of potential) in CJ Spiller. We are definitely going to need to have a special performance by our run defense Sunday, because they will be trying to run on us. If we come out strong with the motor our defense played with against Denver, I think we can hold them to under 120 total rushing yards. If they get more than that in rushing offense we could be in for a long day.
There passing game was extraordinary in their first game against the Chiefs. Ryan Fitzpatrick is able to slice and dice you if you give him time to work with. This is the area that I think our team is going to excel at though. Our DL is going to once again dominate in the trenches. Buffalo's offensive line is pretty good, but I think our DL is going to be too much for them to handle. Matt Shaughnessy is going to continue to impress all year, so much so that I believe he will be a pro bowler this year. Bold statement this early but I am more than willing to stand by it. Richard Seymour is, well, Richard Seymour. We just have too much talent for the Bills offensive line, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to have to get rid of the ball very quickly in order to remain up right. I predict 4 sacks of Fitzpatrick in this game and numerous QB hurries.
As for our offense RUN RUN RUN. Buffalo's LBs are pass rush specialists. Nick Barnett has always been suspect at his run defense but is very good in pass defense. Same with Shawn Merriman who looks more like the roided up freak that played great for SD instead of the injury prone pushover castoff he became in So Cal. They also were able to pick up Kirk Morrison as a back up ILB to Andre Davis. Both Davis and Morrison are stronger against the run than Barnett or Merriman, but still are better suited for passing situations. Chris Kelsey is their other starter on the outside, but I really do not know much about him.
Maybe I am wrong because they shut down the Chiefs running attack, but I think that was more poor coaching from KC and a product of playing from behind the whole game. Even if Buffalo's D turns out to be special, this Raider team needs to run the ball to win games. I want to see some screens this game too. I felt like we should have used more screens against Denver, but we won so that is all that matters. Lets enforce our will on the Bills just like we did against Denver.
We will need a little better passing attack than what Campbell provided us with on Monday. Barely over 100 yards is not going to cut it week in and week out. I want us to go deep a few more times too. Not every time, but we are going to see a whole lot more stacking the box from Buffalo than we did from Denver. Take the top off the defense and it will open up our offense more. I want to see us utilize our talented rookies in the slots. You can not keep up with our speed, so lets use it. Taiwan Jones in one slot and Moore in the other would be a scary sight, and it would be one that could be created from a shift on offense to create mismatches.
I loved that Campbell played smart and did not turn over the ball. Turnovers are going to be a big factor this season, and the less we give the better we will be. I know that is obvious but it is very important. We will be forcing more turnovers this year with a much more aggressive secondary. Rod Woodson is trying to preach to our secondary to make plays, and I think that they will continue to get better at that as the season goes on.
We are going to need to see our secondary make plays against Stevie Johnson. He is their biggest weapon in the passing game. Between shutting him down and getting in Fitzpatrick's face I believe we can make them one dimensional. Their TE Scott Chandler is a weapon too, but it is more important to shut Stevie down. They want to be able to run, but they don't want to HAVE to try to run all day. Nobody wants to be one dimensional, even if they want to do one more than the other. That applies to us too. We must do more to keep the defense honest. Lets hope for a 2-0 start out the gate, because we do have a very tough schedule this year and starting out with 2 would help quite a bit in the road forward.