The Oakland Raiders are 5-7 and they need to win out for any shot at the playoffs.
That is almost common knowledge. The squad needed a victory the past few weeks, but they came out short against the Chiefs.
How can the team secure a victory?
It starts up-front.
The Raiders must establish the running game. This Broncos defense is the best in the league. Oakland can not afford 3rd and 8. Nor can they force sophomore quarterback Derek Carr to do too much.
Between Marceel Reece, Jamize Olawale and Latavius Murray, someone must get going on the ground. The running backs are too physical to not wear down this physical Broncos defense.
On defense, the Raiders line must show-up big again. Khalil Mack dominated against the Chiefs. He must do the same this week. Brock OsWeiler is athletic and the ends must keep containment. However, Mack and company need pressure versus the explosive Broncos offense.
Coverage is key.
Speaking of explosive offense, the Broncos stable of receivers consists of size and speed. The Raiders corners must show-up.
Safety Nate Allen will not play this game. Will TJ Carrie return to safety? Will DJ Hayden return to the starting lineup or stay on Nickel corner duties?
Regardless of who plays, the Raiders corners must compete. If they get beat, they need to find ways to battle back. If they can find a way to create turnovers, they can stay in the game. That is what kept the first Chiefs and Broncos game close.
Find a way for explosive plays.
The Raiders may or may not be overmatched for this game. Nonetheless, the same could be said about next week’s Packers game. Hence, the Raiders need to do whatever it takes to make big plays.
They just paid Michael Crabtree a wad of cash. He needs to be the sure-handed receiver. He dropped a few against the Chiefs.
Plus, Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts are the big-play guys. Do not just use them as decoys. Stretch the ball down the field. Look at the Raiders five wins. They won those games with big shots, not by playing to stay close. Further, utilize Amari Cooper as much as possible. He is our best offensive player, and let him show it. How about an end around or reverse?
Ultimately, this is a divisional game which always makes it a must win. However, this game will test the Raiders heart. Can they battle themselves into playoff contention?
Can they knock out an AFC Conender?
Those are my three keys to keeping their season alive and beating the Broncos.