Wow! Can you believe that we are six weeks away from the National Football League 2012 regular season to finally end. This has been an unbelievable season. Many ups and downs for many teams just like one of them in this article today.
When beginning the 2012 season the New Orleans Saints had so much to deal with. The “bounty gate”, the one-year suspension for head coach Sean Payton, the loss of their defensive coordinator to the Rams then ultimately kicked out of the NFL, four major players suspended, and then the fact they had to play the 2012 season. After starting the year 0-4 they have rallied to be one game away from a .500 record. The Saints are coming off a big division win against who is now formally undefeated Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans. Drew Brees is still being Brees by having another spectacular season as the Saints quarterback. Brees has thrown again already for 25 touchdowns, with only 9 interceptions, and for a total of 2,847 yards. Though that is not the problem of the Saints. The one problem they have had all season that has been their downfall were the key losses on defense early thanks to the suspensions and now still struggle with giving over 400 yards per game and average a total of 27 points against them.
Now for the Oakland Raiders this season was thought to be one where they would finally get over the hump and make the playoffs. Though now at 3-6 overall it looks like they will get a new head coach any time soon with maybe the firing of Dennis Allen. Allen was brought in to be the young defensive minded coach they believed him to be. But in the end this has not been a good year at all defensively. The Raiders average a total of 31.6 points per game against them and average 375 yards against as well. Those are numbers that make a team like the Raiders 3-6. Even with Carson Palmer having a “come back player of the year” type numbers at quarterback it has not been enough. If the Raiders want to win this Sunday they will have to do three things.
Here are those three keys for an Oakland Raiders win today:
1) Carson Palmer. If the Oakland Raiders are going to beat the Saints this Sunday their quarterback needs to be perfect. Palmer must find a way to not turn the ball over and spread the Saints defense. New Orleans who averages 307 pass yards against per game has obviously been vulnerable to big pass plays. Palmer averages 302 yards per game needs to continue that Sunday afternoon in Oakland.
2) Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. If Palmer is going to have a chance to beat the Saints in Oakland Sunday he must have his best receivers at the top of their game. Which includes Moore and Bey. Both have had truly on and off seasons this year. Not one has truly been consistent and the only one you can fight for that is Moore who is the best receiver on the team. They both must find the end zone and be ready to be thrown to at least 10-15 times each since the running game will probably non-existent without Darren McFadden.
3) Stop Jimmy Graham on Defense. Though I could have just said the entire defense and just ended it their for Oakland to win I just couldn’t be that obvious. We all know that the Raider defense is just pitiful. They have given up a total of 97 points the last two weeks total. Now if they want to have a chance to force Brees and the Saints to be more one-dimensional they must stop Graham. Graham once again is having a fantastic season thanks to having one of the top three quarterbacks in the game. If the Raiders can keep Jimmy Graham out of the end zone and focus on Marques Colston then they should have a chance to win this game out late.
When coming up with a prediction for these games I try to see what could or couldn’t happen. For this Sunday afternoons game in Oakland what couldn’t happen is an Oakland Raiders win. The New Orleans Saints are getting hot at the right time and that big win over division rival Atlanta Falcons could push them right into the playoffs.
38-14, New Orleans Saints defeat Oakland Raiders.
*All stats thanks to pro-football-reference.com