Why the NFL scheduled this matchup on Monday night is beyond me. (The beatdown is predicted to be so lopsided that it’s attracting a possible TV-MA rating, which is illegal for primetime.)
But the Oakland Raiders have traveled to Mile High Stadium and stunned viewers before, so we’ll save judgment for later. The Raiders’ gameplan:
Get to Peyton Manning
The Raiders must do what so many teams have failed, which is getting in Manning’s grill. There is hope however, because left tackle Ryan Clady is out for the season, and his replacement Chris Clark will be lining up across Lamarr Houston. Clark will likely require help.
Oakland has shown a tendency to blitz from everywhere often in the first two weeks, which needs to continue. There is nothing more dangerous than an elite quarterback with time to throw, and Manning coincidentally was the second least-sacked 16-game starter (first was his brother Eli) in 2012.
When you lead the league in rushing yards, you should definitely keep smashing the rock. That means more touches for Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece and Rashad Jennings and more designed runs for Terrelle Pryor.
More reasons to keep it on the ground? Running the ball will wear down the defense and more importantly chew the clock, which will keep the pill away from Manning.
It will take more than arm-tackles to stop the Denver Broncos, who are a more physical team than they get credit for. The Raiders secondary in particular must stay true to technique, because Manning’s favorite targets Demaryius Thomas (143 yards-after-catch), Julius Thomas (78), Wes Welker (41), and Eric Decker (37) refuse to go down.
The Raiders did this against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and to no surprise they won. Oakland must do the same on Monday, because a playoff club like the Broncos will feast on the Silver and Black’s mistakes.
Win the turnover battle, and you set yourself up for victory.
It’s not easy to start your fourth NFL game in hostile Denver territory, but that’s what Pryor must do. So if the Raiders fall behind early, the team must try their best not to press and remember that it’s only a game. Relax! There’s still another 13 contests on the schedule. (But let’s keep it close, please.)
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