The last time we waltzed into Oakland, we eviscerated them. We were solid in every aspect of the game. Or offense moved the ball on the ground and through the air with ease, even with Nnamdi on the other side. Our defense was stout, and unforgiving. I walked away from that game without a single complaint. Now that it's 2011, I am not as confident that we will see the same results.
The Raiders secondary is only a shell of what it was with Nnamdi taking away the right side. The Bills were able to carve up Oakland's secondary for 3 TDs, with names like David Nelson, and Donald Jones. None of these receivers can hold a candle to who we have catching passes. Holmes, Plaxico, Keller and Mason should be able to get open easily against guys like Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson. Now here's why none of this might matter.
The success of our offense on Sunday, is on the shoulders of two guys. Colin Baxter and Wayne Hunter will have tremendous pressure on them this game. I already expect our running game to be as poor as it has been. If we couldn't open any holes with Mangold in there, than how will we open them up without him? We will have to win this game through the air. In order to do that, Sanchez needs time to pass.
Baxter didn't do that bad of a job with pass protection in his first NFL game. He made some mistakes with the snap counts, but those can be ironed out with practice time with the 1s. He can get pushed around though. That was seen on the play before our goal line TD. Terrance Knighton absolutely blew him up. I don't mind if he bends a little, as long as he doesn't break, and let Sanchez get killed. The same goes for Hunter. Hunter let Roth beat him up a little bit. One play resulting in Sanchez getting hit hard in his arm. Sanchez was lucky enough to only walk away with a bruised arm this game. Will we be so lucky Sunday? If our O-line can put into action the bend but not break game plan, we should be able to move the ball around in the air.
Their offense and our defense are very fundamentally different. Their offense is built for speed, and ours is built for strength. If we aren't able to use our strength to stop their speed, we would be in trouble. Luckily for us, 3 of the Raiders top receivers are a little banged up. Ford has hamstring issues, Heyward-Bay has a Knee issue, and Louis Murphy has a groin issue. The only real receiving threat they have, is Denarious Moore. Moore is a rising star in the Raiders receiving core. He made some big plays last week against the Bills.
Boss might not be Antonio Gates, or Jason Witten, but he is a solid TE. He was Eli's safety net last year, and should be a decent safety net for Campbell this year. Look for him to be the main target for the Raiders on 3rd downs. I would put Revis on Boss, and Cro on Moore, with some help over the top. Everyone else can be in single coverage. All in all, I am not scared of the Raiders passing attack. They might get lucky once, and break a big pass play to one of their many 4.4-4.3 guys.
Where we need to be worried, is with Darren McFadden. he has a bruised shoulder, but that shouldn't stop him. He finally showed some worth last year, and has continued to show his skill this year. The Jets have taken out one top 10 RB this yeak, in MJD, but McFadden is different. McFadden doesn't run through you, and bounce off tackles like a pinball. He is a very illusive, and shifty player. We struggle at times with RBs who take the ball outside on us. If we can't get guys into the backfield to slow him down going around the corner, we could be in trouble. We are stout up the middle. There is no doubting that, but our D-line is no built for chasing guys to the outside. Our LBers aren't that fast either, and sealing the edge might prove to be a difficult task. Our defense has the ability to adapt to offenses that like to do the majority of their attacking by using 1 player.
This game will most likely not be like our last meeting in Oakland. I am confident in saying it will be a close game, and maybe closer than any of us would like, if the O-line struggles. With some luck, and good game planning, we should be 3-0 going into Baltimore.