The Oakland Raiders (4-5) find themselves playing the Detroit Lions (2-7) a week after they defeated their division rival Green Bay Packers.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are in the middle of a two game losing skid. They are headed to the east coast for a road game against a team they should beat.
Oakland needs to beat Detroit to keep their playoff hopes alive. How can the Raiders prevent letting fans down for a third week?
Here are some key game plan points:
Run the Ball
The Raiders defense is so much better on third and short than they are on third and medium. Hence, they need to find ways to run the ball and get into those short down situations.
That means Latavius Murray needs to get fed consistently. Moreover, the team needs to utilize Taiwan Jones, Jamize Olawale and Marcel Reece.
These three guys all bring different skill-sets that can keep the defense off balance. The Raiders offense failed to find any rhythm last week, but instituting the running game will open up the Raiders play action game.
Further, the Raiders offense staying on the field means the Raiders secondary is not getting beat deep on defense…
Rushing the passer and playing tight coverage will be equally important this week. The Lions are going to feel confident at home, after defeating the Packers in Green Bay.
The Raiders need to silence that confidence with some takeaways or sacks.
Don’t get it twisted, Matt Stafford will take some chances in the passing game. Ball hawks Nate Allen and Charles Woodson must take advantage.
Also, D.J. Hayden can not get picked on this week. Let’s rephrase that, he can not get down WHEN he gets picked on. Hayden is among the worst rated CBs by PFF, but he needs to find a way to play better against the explosive Detroit receivers.
All of this will be difficult, as the Raiders will be without their second best pass rusher on defense. Aldon Smith is suspended, and the Raiders need to find a pass rusher who can replace him.
Smith was literally just finding his stride with the defense. However, now they will need to find other ways to disrupt Stafford. Like most quarterbacks, Stafford does not like pressure.
The Raiders need to do their best to pressure Stafford, even if that means taking chances with the blitzes.
Play to win
It sounds corny, but the Raiders need to stay aggressive. They are a good team and they need to play to win.
On defense, they need to blitz even if they get beat deep. Forget the prevent defenses if they get a lead.
On offense they need to try to score everytime they have the ball. Forget the screen and draw plays on third and long.
The Raiders are the superior team who should win. They need to play like a team that believes that, if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The AFC West is wide open, and the Raiders need to JUST WIN, BABY!