After an off-season that was captured on film by HBO and highlighted by helmet drama, the Oakland Raiders are finally preparing to play meaningful football. For the very last time, the season opens up in the Coliseum as the Raiders take on their hated rivals, the Denver Broncos, in the graveyard shift on Monday Night Football. What do they have to do to win? It’s really simple…
Oakland Raiders Keys to Victory: Week One (2019)
Protect Derek Carr
Oakland’s offensive linemen, as well as their coach, have been the target of scrutiny for quite some time now, and they have one hell of a test waiting for them on Monday night. The Denver Broncos registered 44 sacks last year, with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb both surpassing double digits, and both will give Kolton Miller and Trent Brown their best in the Coliseum.
Last season, the Raiders actually did a decent job of protecting Derek Carr against the Denver rushers, only giving up two sacks over both games, and the Raiders had chances to win both games, the second of which they actually did. In the first game, Carr’s protection allowed him to have one of the most accurate games in NFL history. In the second, they ran all over the Broncos defense on their way to the most recent of “last game in Oakland” wins.
The Raiders will be missing starters Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson because of suspensions and injuries, so they’ll have to work even harder to stop the likes of Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris inside. Protecting Carr is the key to Oakland’s success this season. If Carr has time, good things will happen. If not? Well then everyone remembers the games against the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.
I’m as excited as anyone about the debut of Josh Jacobs, and I think he’s probably going to be the offensive rookie of the year. However, the lion’s share of Oakland’s off-season revolved around revamping the team’s receiving corps. Antonio Brown (who as of 1:04 PST on Friday, September sixth, is still playing on Monday night), Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, J.J. Nelson, and Ryan Grant were all brought in, and Darren Waller was promoted to fill the void left by Jared Cook.
I would love to see the Raiders come out and bully the Broncos on the ground like they did at the end of last season, but I also think the Raiders need to be aggressive on offense and take some shots downfield. I say attack vertically, but perhaps I really mean remain balanced. After all, Raider Nation has endured a ton of drama over the last month, and they’re ready for someone to prove he’s worth every second of it.
Stop the Run
Historically, the only times the Denver Broncos have really been any good has been when they were running the ball, and fortunately for them, they’ve done that a lot. It always seems like the Broncos have a great stable of versatile tailback talent and this year’s team is no different. Between Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, and Devontae Booker, the Broncos have no shortage of ways to attack on the ground.
The Raiders gave up the fewest passing attempts in the NFL last year, partially because those passes were going for big yardage, but also because the team was 30th in run defense and gave up nearly five yards a carry. The Raiders need to focus on stopping the run and force them to give Joe Flacco the reigns.
“Force Joe Flacco to beat you” is a pretty solid gameplan, especially with the improvements the Raiders made in the secondary this off-season. The pass rush will still be iffy, but fortunately, Flacco isn’t Patrick Mahomes.
Have More Points at the End of the Game
Because someone was going to say it anyway.