Thearon W. Henderson
The high flying offense of the Saints are coming to town. The Raiders better be ready for them!
Oakland's O.Co coliseum is ready to rock. This game is almost certain to be a shoot-out since its between two of the worst defenses in the NFL and two of the best passing offenses.
The Raiders would probably rather this game not be a shoot-out if it was possible. If the Raiders defense can come out showing some pride after giving up 55 points the last time they were on the field that would be ideal. Realistically its highly unlikely to see this defense stop the Saints though.
If the Raiders defense can't stop the Saints consistently then the offense will need to keep up with them. I feel like the Raiders offense is going to be able to stay in stride with New Orleans but I worry about what the final score will be if they can't.
Even if the Raiders defense can't get stops on a regular basis they are going to need to get enough stops to win. They need to get a stop or two early to let the Raiders get an early lead. This team needs a confidence boost and they need to play with a lead early for once especially against a strong offense.
The cardiac kids that are the Raiders this year are not winning enough games to keep playing from behind confidently. Its time they get a lead right away to allow this team to play by their game plan instead of having to climb their way back into the competition. There is enough pressure with their record being 3-6, adding more onto that by having to play catch up is not the way to win games.
The Saints are not a team that is good to send the blitz at so the defensive line performing well is a huge key to this game. Drew Brees can get thrown off if he gets hit too much and that's when he starts turning the ball over.
Unfortunately the best way to hit the QB is by blitzing normally but Brees is just too good against blitzes. He gets the ball out too quickly and too accurately for the blitz to get there before the ball is gone. That's why the pressure has to come from the defensive line.
Lamaar Houston and Matt Shaughnessy might be the most important Oakland players in this game because of Brees' excellence against blitzing. If the Raiders fail to get pressure off the ends then Drew will demolish the Raiders secondary all day.
There are a ton of weapons to watch out for on the Saints offense. Jimmy Graham is the one I worry most about because tight ends have killed the Raiders this year and most recently the tight ends killed them last week. Jimmy had been hurt most the year but last week he had a monster game and is obviously back healthy. He is a scary person to have to defend with his basketball leaping ability.
Darren Sproles is also a Raider killer and appears to be back this week. Then there is still Marques Colston and Lance Moore on the outsides at WR and Chris Ivory has been averaging 7 yards a carry the last two weeks. Oh and did I mention Pierre Thomas? Yeah this Saints team is loaded alright, and that's why the defensive line needs to show up this game. Watch for screens especially because that's where Sproles has killed us in the past. Watch for everything really because there isn't a weak spot for this Saints offense.
As for the Raiders offense, they need touchdowns. They can not settle for field goals in this game or they will lose. The Raiders redzone offense has been deplorable and that needs to end right here and now.
What I would really like to see from the Raiders are some big play touchdowns. This Saints secondary is not good and tend to let their opponents stick around. I want to see the Raiders test the Saints secondary's range by going deep. The Raiders have one of the best deep ball throwers in the league in Carson Palmer and this is the game to show that strength.
The biggest key to the offense this week though is going to be Marcel Reece. He showed the coaching staff what many fans already knew last week and that is that he is capable of being a major emphasise of the offense. He will be looking to improve on his 13 carry 48 yard, 7 catch 56 yard performance last week.
The more Reece is utilized out of the backfield the better it will be for the Raiders. I am hoping and expecting for Marcel to get at least 20 touches again in this game between receiving and rushing. He had been used far too little up until now and its time for the coaching staff to see what they can do with him.
Another player I would love the coaching staff to involve more is Juron Criner. He was the talk of the town in training camp and now its time to unleash him. When he gets the ball in his hands he makes things happen and he makes it look easy. He needs to see the field more and I hope to see more routes where he is the first option read.
Its more than halfway through the season and Criner should have the speed of the game down now. Hopefully we will see him get some more chances to be on the field Sunday. Its especially important to spread the ball around on the Saints to exploit their lack of depth which makes Criner even more dangerous in this game.
We already know the Raiders have a hard time running the ball and luckily for them this is a game that will be won by passing. The fact that the Saints will be playing the pass might open some holes to run through. Khalif Barnes being back could help as well. I want to see the Raiders average at least 4 yards a carry this game, which for them would be very good. Welcome back Barnes, this is the time for you to show Raider Nation what you bring to this team because your absence has been rough.
I actually feel good about this game. Call me crazy if you want but I feel like the Raiders could win this one despite the streak the Saints are in. The Saints might be overlooking the Raiders after their big win in Atlanta last week and the Raiders are not as bad as their last game in Baltimore.
The Raiders need to finally get a few sacks under their belt and a turnover or two. That is asking a lot but this team should be fired up after their embarrassing last two weeks on defense. The offense needs to go deep and spread the ball around. If those things happen they can win this game. Lets at least keep this game respectable because all hell will break loose if they are blown out again.
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