The Oakland Raiders will travel to Denver to take on the division rival Broncos on Sunday in what is proving to be the most important game of the young season.
After getting humiliated in Washington in front of a national television audience, the Raiders need to find a way to bounce back but will have a difficult time doing so against a very good Broncos team. If they fail to notch a win, or even worse, get blown out again, this season could quickly spiral out of control.
So, in order to avoid that potentially disastrous result, here are some keys to bringing home a win and getting the Raiders back on track:
Force Trevor Siemien to win the game
I know I just talked about how Siemien and the Broncos defense is much improved in my piece the other day, but despite that fact, Siemien remains the weak spot on an otherwise strong Denver team.
The Denver run game is currently ranked third in the league averaging just over 140 yards per game on the ground. While Siemien has improved, this remains a run first offense with a passing game that supplements rather than leads. Siemien has yet to prove he is capable to putting the team on his back and winning if the run game is shut down.
Thus, the Raiders NEED to shut down the run game. If the Raiders allow Denver to run all over them, they will have no hope. Siemien may not be anything special but he’s more than capable of steering this team to a win when he has a great defense and strong run game at his back.
Stopping the run must be priority number one for the Raiders on Sunday.
Last weekend, the Raiders were caught off guard by what they saw from the Washington’s defense and never made the necessary adjustments to counter it. Only three games in and rookie offensive coordinator Todd Downing has already hit a major stumbling block. Now, he has to prove that the decision to move on from Bill Musgrave in order to give him a shot at being the offensive coordinator.
Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) for him, the next opponent will give him the opportunity to prove his worth.
Denver still has one of the NFL’s most elite defenses and particularly when it comes to their secondary. Though the Raiders haven’t been stumped by Denver the way they have been by Kansas City, they haven’t exactly dominated them either. The Raiders offense will have their hands full with Denver and if Todd Downing isn’t up for the ensuing chess match, Denver could end up running away with this game the way Washington ran away with the last one.
Come Ready to Play
It’s sad that I have to list this as a key to the game, but after the embarrassing performance the Raiders put on last weekend, it seems necessary. For whatever reason, the Raiders were not prepared to play when they took the field on Sunday night. And what’s worse, after getting punched in the mouth, the Raiders looked like they didn’t want anymore. They didn’t look like they wanted to fight back.
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