Cary Emondson-US PRESSWIRE
The Raiders are sitting at 3-4. A win against the Bucs puts them at .500 and gives them their first 3-game winning streak in the Dennis Allen Era.
The Tampa Bay offense is very formidable. Their defense, though? Not so much. With the Bucs 31st ranked pass defense this has all the classic signs pointing towards a shoot out game between these two teams.
What that also means is that if Oakland's suddenly stout defense can continue their recent trend of playing well then the Raiders have an excellent chance of success. The Buccaneers are not stopping anybody's offense so far this year so they rely on scoring a lot of points. If the Raiders can keep them from scoring touchdowns they should come out of this game with a win.
One of the scariest players that Tampa has on their team is one Raider Nation knows very well. That is the former San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. The 6'5, 230 pound beast of a man has been known to go off Gangnam Style on the Raiders whenever he is able to get on the field against them.
Since Jackson has had major success against the Raiders in the past he should be the number one concern for the Raiders. VJ is more of a concern than the very good receiver on the other side, Mike Williams, and even more of a concern than the rookie phenom running back Doug Martin. If VJ gets going then the Raiders could be in trouble.
Speaking of that rookie phenom, Doug Martin creates a serious mismatch as well. He has nice hands and great speed. Just ask the Vikings who he gashed for over 200 yards from scrimmage a week ago. He has deceptive speed and has an ability to make big gains out of nothing on a regular basis.
The Raiders run defense has been the best it has been in years and they are going to get another big test Sunday. Doug Martin is a great young back and they have a talented change of pace back in LaGarrette Blount as well. Blount hasn't been used much this year but he is capable of breaking out anytime if the Bucs decide to give him carries. The Raiders will need to be ready for both running backs because of the completely different styles of each, although Martin is expected to get most of the carries.
As for the Raiders offense they have to be salivating at the mouth to get at this Buccaneer defense. It is always important to get Darren McFadden his carries but this game is really going to be about the passing game. The Bucs will be missing both of their starting corners for this game and they weren't even that good when they had them.
Carson Palmer is going to air it out big time in this game, especially if Tampa's QB Josh Freeman has success on the other side of the field. I expect Palmer to have at least 35 pass attempts in this game and I think he will complete a lot of them. Carson is going to get his yards but it is even more important that he gets the ball into the endzone. The Raiders will not win this game if they consistently settle for field goals.
Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and the rest of the Raiders receivers need to take advantage of their match-ups in this game. The Buccaneers secondary is depleted and ripe to be taken advantage of. They don't have anybody the Raiders should be too scared of back there and Moore specifically should dominate. Even teams with great coreners have trouble stopping him so he should have a field day on the sub par corners of Tampa. Ronde Barber will be on Moore most of this game and the veteran I just do not believe has enough speed left to cover Moore. I expect Moore to make up for his two big drops against Kansas City with a huge game against Tampa.
It will be interesting to watch how the running game for the Raiders performs Sunday. With the Raiders planning on continuing to add more power blocking along with the zone scheme I expect to see Darren McFadden's per carry average increase. He has been lucky to get past 3 yards per carry many times this year and that has to get better.
With the likely pass heavy game plan, DMC's per carry average becomes even more important. He is probably not going to get more than 20 or so carries in this game so he needs to make the most out of each one. I see him being a big part of the passing game Sunday as well so hopefully he gets a lot of touches.
If the Raiders want to keep control of this game the most efficient way to do that is to keep Josh Freeman off the field. The Raiders would like to control the time of possession but that will only happen if DMC is performing well.
The Raiders have a tough but winnable game this Sunday at home in the O.Co. If the defense plays well the Raiders should win and Oakland has the talent to make up for mistakes.
They will play Baltimore next week on the East Coast but no one on this team is thinking of that right now. They are concentrating on winning this game and getting to .500 for the first time this season.
Winning this game would come with a little revenge too as it is against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We all remember them as the team that sent the Raiders into the dark ages after Super Bowl XXXVII.