As we come into week six of the 2012 NFL season there is a match-up only Oakland and Atlanta fans that will be watching. This Sunday morning here on the west coast after the Oakland Athletics historic run came to an end Oakland shifts its focus on a one and three Raiders team coming off a bye week. Though the Falcons are coming off two very tough victories against Carolina and Washington where they just pulled it off. As looking at the Raiders they are coming off their bye week just after losing to division rivals the Denver Broncos in Denver and looking to help their rookie head coach get back on the winning track.
Both teams come into contest looking for the same outcome. The Raiders need a win to get closer to the track they want to be on and Atlanta wants to continue its undefeated season and stay a top the NFL with Houston.
Each team has it quirks and problems, but the Oakland Raiders have had ton this entire season. So this week I want to talk about the three keys for the Raiders if they want to not get their butts kicked against Atlanta in Atlanta this week.
Keys for the Oakland Raiders:
1. Darren McFadden. As we have seen in the past if Darren McFadden gets into the game and succeed the Raiders succeed. And this season Run DMC has done absolutely nothing and the Raiders in essence have done nothing successful as well. Though McFadden had one game, which is the only victory and 100 yard rushing game, he has had when the Raiders beat the injured Steelers in Oakland 34 to 31. The Raiders must find a way to exploit the Falcons who do allow 143 rushing per game and keep possession away from the offensive powerhouse of Matt Ryan and company. If they can get McFadden the ball on the ground 15-25 times and he can be successful the Raiders could have a chance to beat the undefeated Falcons.
2. Carson Palmer and the Wide Receiving Core. Second key for this game for the Oakland Raiders is the play of its wide receiving core along with its starting quarterback veteran Carson Palmer. So far this year Palmer has been very good throwing for over a thousand yards this season and averaging over 270 yards per game passing. Though his quarterback rating is not elite at 86.6 this season the Raiders wide outs have not helped him out offensively consistently this season. Even though his numbers are high and average as well don’t let it fool you. The Raiders go to the well to many times targeting Darren McFadden on almost every offensive play. If the Raiders are going to have a chance they need to be balanced and wide receivers like Denarius Moore and Brandon Myers need to step up big time today.
3. Oakland Raiders Defense. Coming into this article it was quite obvious the keys to the Raiders, but many do take for granted that the Raiders are probably going to get blown out in Atlanta today. The third key has to be the entire defense for the Raiders. Even in their win against the Steelers the Raiders gave up a total of 433 yards and were on defense for thirty-six minutes. The Raiders must find a way to even the amount of possession time from the Falcons. If you give the Falcons a chance to breath and move they will destroy your defense. They must find a way to stop Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and Roddy White to a point where the points don’t keep climbing higher and higher. The Falcons are going to get their catches, yards, and possession time as they have been doing all year. The Raiders just need to find a way to eliminate one part of the offense to confuse Atlanta. Also, the Raiders are known for their feisty defense and cannot get penalized huge in this game. The Raiders always find themselves giving up first downs and long drives thanks to small dumb penalties that can be avoided.
Though in the end the game is going to be played today in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome and the last time these two teams faced each other Atlanta has won both match-ups. Darren McFadden and the Raiders defense must find a way to step up against Atlanta to find a win at the end like they did against the Pittsburg Steelers in Oakland. All it takes is one turnover or one momentum shift and anything can happen. Though this Sunday morning I do not see it happening for Oakland. I see a blown out in the making.
Atlanta defeats Oakland, 33-9
The undefeated Falcons offense is just way to much for a building Raiders team and rookie head coach Dennis Allen even after a bye week to deal with. Though do not be surprised if the Raiders at half time are tied or in the heat of a battle with Atlanta. There could be an upset in the making if Dennis Allen prepared this team well enough the past week and a half.
*All statistics thanks to pro-football-reference.com