Last week, the Oakland Raiders nearly suffered a letdown. The Houston Texans led throughout the Monday Night Football matchup in Mexico City.
However, the Raiders found a way to win.
This week, the Raiders can not rely on the same heroics. Despite their record, the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (4-6) still have the reigning MVP, big receivers and a scary defensive line. Don’t forget Oakland’s only two losses this season came at home. Hence, this could combine for a huge Panthers’ road victory over the Raiders.
Here is the formula which should help Oakland protect their home-field
1) Pound the football
Oakland made their running backs relevant via pass attempts. Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard both caught touchdown passes and Latavius Murray caught five passes for 59 yards.
Otherwise, Oakland only rushed for 30 yards on 20 carries. The Texans owned them in time of possession by more than 13 minutes.
Hence, Oakland must bounce back this week. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in football, and they face a great Carolina defensive line that is deep. It should be fun watching Kelechi Osemele and Kawann Short battle in the middle. Hopefully, the Raiders can take advantage of their versatility at the running back position with Murray, Richard and company.
Plus, Carolina will be without their all-pro run linebacker Luke Kuechly. This should open up some running lanes for the Raiders.
Expect them to get back to the ground game against the Panthers. This is the easiest way to limit Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s impact on the game.
2) Pressure Cam Newton
Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack enters this game with a chance to get a sack in his sixth consecutive game. However, it won’t be easy against the forever mobile Newton.
Thus, it will be on the entire defensive line to contain Newton. It is well documented that Newton has problems with the way he is hit on the run and in the pocket. Therefore, Oakland must get into his head by pressuring and hitting him in legal ways. This will keep the Panthers’ rushing and passing attack out of rhythm.
Further, the Raiders must stay in their passing lines. Newton can extend plays with his feet, so the Raiders must not let him run around. The Raiders secondary makes too many mistakes, and the Panthers receivers are too big and fast. It could spell disaster if the Raiders do not pressure Newton and keep contain.
Granted, that is easier said than done.
3) Secondary must improve
The Carolina secondary has not been the same since losing Josh Norman to free agency. Therefore, the deep group of Oakland receivers should exploit the Carolina corners.
However, the Panthers could make this a shootout. We know the Raiders secondary makes mistakes via penalties and big plays. This week, they matchup well against the big-bodied receivers in Carolina. Raiders corners Sean Smith and David Amerson are just as big and skilled as Panthers receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Tedd Ginn Jr.
Hence, the Oakland secondary must improve. D.J. Hayden, Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson, Malcolm Smith, and Perry Riley could all see matchups versus tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is one of the best in the NFL.
Oakland can not let the Panthers keep this game close by giving up big plays in the passing game. No mistakes this week, guys!
The Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers play at 1:25 p.m. PST.