Sitting at 3-6, the Raiders’ hopes of making a run at the playoffs continue to slip with every passing week. With a matchup against the red hot New Orleans Saints, their prospects do not get any easier. Considering the struggles of both defenses, this game could easily turn into the biggest of shootouts. Accordingly so, here are the Raiders’ Week 11 keys to victory.
Control the Clock
We know Drew Brees and the Saints offense are going to get their points. Even the best of defenses don’t hold them off the scoreboard, but the key to limiting their production is limiting the time that they are on the field. When the Raiders have the ball, they need to consistently move the chains in whichever way possible. They should have some success doing so against the Saints defense, but if they can’t, this game will look a whole lot like last week’s blowout in Baltimore.
Stop the Run
As effective as everyone knows the Saints passing attack can be, it becomes all the more effective if it comes in tandem with success on the ground. If the Raiders can shut down the Saints’ running game, it will make them completely one dimensional, and force them into more obvious passing situations. As much as the Raiders’ pass defense has struggled, this would do wonders for their chances.
Big Play on Special Teams
It is near impossible to predict a big special teams play in a given game. However, considering how much the Raiders defense is outmatched, they may very well need a contribution like that to swing the momentum of the game. The return game on both kickoffs and punts has struggled significantly, so a big play contribution in that area could be huge.
Matchup vs. Jimmy Graham
With Tyvon Branch likely missing this game, there is a good chance that Mike Mitchell could draw a coverage matchup with Saints TE Jimmy Graham. In the past, we’ve seen flashes of Mitchell’s ability to matchup with and shutdown some very good tight ends. In this game, his play will be one of the biggest factors in the Raiders’ potential success, as Graham is one of Drew Brees’ most reliable targets. Should Mike Mitchell be able to shut down, or even limit Jimmy Graham’s production, the Raiders’ chance of victory becomes that much bigger.
Based on the Raiders’ play over the past few games, and some of the key players that they will be missing due to injury, their chances of pulling out a win against the Saints’ high powered offense might be slim. However, coming off of an embarrassing loss to Baltimore, now playing host to a team that has had struggles on the road, anything could happen. Success in these four areas would significantly contribute to the Raiders’ chance of what would be a huge home win.
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