Another win last week has the Raiders with their first 2-0 start in 15 years. This week they will travel to Landover, Maryland to play the Washington Redskins on Sunday Night Football. It’s the Raiders’ first primetime game of the year against an opponent that, on paper, they match up well against.
With both the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs also at 2-0, every game will be important to keep up. Like many games they will play this season, the Raiders have a talent advantage. They are not going to just show up and be handed a victory so let’s take a look at the keys to another Raider win.
Stopping the run
This is going to be a familiar trend this season as teams are going to try and keep the Raiders vaunted offense on the sideline. In this game though it will be to force the ball into Washington quarterback Kurk Cousins hand.
In their week 2 match up with the LA Rams, Washington rushed for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns on 39 carries. Much like the Raiders, Washington has 3 running backs capable of hurting a defense.
Even if starting back Rob Kelly who has been limited with a rib injury does not play, their backup running backs can create big plays. None bigger than Chris Thompsons 61 yard touchdown run last week.
Thompson scored on this draw play despite some quick interior pressure. He was also able to open the running lane for himself buy using a jump cut to pull the defender out of the gap. The Raiders need to force Washington to earn their rushing attempts and obviously prevent these big plays.
Not giving up any easy points will put pressure on Washington's offense to try and keep up with the Raiders scoring ability. They are not built for a shoot out. Forcing the ball into Cousins hands will allow the Raiders to take advantage of the Redskins biggest offensive weakness.
Interior pass rush
The biggest issue plaguing Washington’s offense is the interior of their offensive line. Expect the Raiders to attack this weakness with “A” gap blitzes and defensive line stunts. Getting EDGE rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin matched up with weaker caliber offensive linemen and away from three time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams will be a priority.
The Redskins gave up 2 sacks in their game last week and were only able to produce 179 passing yards. The Raiders should be able to hold this offense to similar numbers and it will start with pressure in Cousins face, like on this sack.
Pressure from the middle of the line forces Cousins off his spot and buys time for the pocket to completely collapse. Raiders defensive tackles Eddie Vanderdoes and Mario Edwards Jr will get sacks if Washington has to try to overcome a lead.
Washington used their run game to control the clock last week with 36 minuets of time possession to the Rams 24 minuets. If the Raiders stop the run and force Washington to throw, their defense will control the game.
Vertical passing routes
Despite Washington linebacker Zach Brown daring the Raiders to throw the ball they would prefer if the Raiders didn’t. Washington has show a vulnerability to the vertical passing routes that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr excels at throwing. By now everyone knows how fond of the fade route he is, he will get his opportunities to use it this week.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed 15 of 25 passes for 224 yards, 1 touchdown, and one game sealing interception. If his offensive line had held up to the 6 man rush on this play he would have added about 55 yards and another touchdown to that total.
Goff had the fade route open he just ran out of time to get a good throw off. The Raiders offensive line will not give up pressure so easy. Carr would be celebrating at the end of this play.
Washington will also need to get their coverage discipline in line if the hope to avoid being on the wrong side of a highlight reel. The Redskins defense was out of position many times in their last game. A quarterback of Carr’s ability will make them pay for it almost every time. This 66 yard completion is a prime example.
The left cornerback covers the deep in, leaving his deep zone in this Cover-3 wide open. This creates a 2 on 1 between the underneath linebacker and the Rams tight end and running back in the flat. The end result is the tight end running uncovered down the sideline for a 68 yard completion. Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing will certainly be looking to take shots down the field to pressure Washington’s coverage.
The Raiders are playing another opponent that they match up with very well. If they can shut down Washington’s dangerous running backs and force them to throw the ball their defense will have a chance to hit the quarterback. The Raiders offense is loaded with weapons to take advantage of the Redskins coverage issues in their secondary. Like the Jets game, this game will get out of hand quick if the Raiders get a lead. Expect them to be sitting at 3-0 after this weekend and hopefully alone in first place in the division.
Who will win this game and why?
This poll is closed