When was the last time the Oakland Raiders played a meaningful game in primetime? When was the last time the Raiders had a legitimate chance to win said game?
Oakland will face the Denver Broncos for this week’s Sunday Night Football action. The Raiders have a real shot at defeating the reigning Super Bowl champions this Sunday. Don’t forget Oakland defeated the Broncos one time last year.
There is a lot of hype surrounding this game. Beyond the typical AFC West rivalry hype, both teams are 6-2. The winner gains access to the driver seat in the division. Here is how the Raiders can live up to their hype.
Control the line of scrimmage
The Raiders top rusher only averages about 46 yards per game. The runner by committee contributes to that mediocrity. However, Oakland needs a big performance from a running back… cough… Latavius Murray.
Oakland needs to control the ball at home. They need to pound away at the Broncos defense. An effective running attack gives Derek Carr managable third downs.
Otherwise, Von Miller as a pass rusher versus the Raiders revolving door at right tackle is too much. Plus, Denver’s starting corners – if Aquib Talib is healthy – are too much for Oakland to throw the ball 60 times.
Not to mention, the Raiders defense ranks towards the bottom in most categories. Therefore, Oakland needs to run the ball so their defense stays off the field.
Start the Carr
Derek Carr is for sure the best quarterback in this game. He may just be the best player on the entire field.
All of this MVP talk is warranted. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with a 66 percent completion rate. Not to mention, every Raiders fan has seen Carr lead momentous drives versus the Saints, Buccaneers, Ravens, and every other win.
Carr will need to get the offense started again. He needs a breakout game under the prime lights. That does not necessarily mean he needs to throw for 50 times like he did versus Tampa Bay. However, he needs to throw curcial big plays. He needs to keep drives alive by hitting the check downs. He needs to keep his feet accurate on routine passes and screens. He may also need to scramble for a necessary gain.
Basically, Derek Carr needs to continue his growth as a franchise quarterback versus the Broncos.
Oakland has a top five offense and a bottom five defense. The only way they’ve been able to win games is by creating turnovers.
Last season, neither team scored more than twenty points in either game. Therefore, defense will be critical again.
The Broncos will be without C.J. Anderson. Hence, the Raiders should improve at stopping the run.
That means the Broncos are going to gamble more on longer second and third downs. This translates to more pass rushing opportunities for Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack. It should result for more picks via the secondary.
Ultimately, we know the Broncos can create turnovers. We know their defense is No. 1 against the pass. Can the Raiders hold their own by creating turnovers at home?
P.S. The Raiders are leading the league in penalties by a lot. They’ve been able to win in spite of that. Can the Raiders keep it up? Or will those yards and points left on the field hurt Oakland?