Oakland has a tall task ahead of them come this Sunday. The Raiders have to come down off the high of beating the Chiefs on the national stage in a thriller and travel cross-country to play the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo has a defense that ranks 7th in the league against the run and until last Sunday, was only surrendering an average of 14.8 points per game. However, as we look closer at the game film there are some areas in the Bills defense that are weak. Here are a couple matchups Oakland needs to scheme to their favor to come out on top on Sunday:
Utilizing Washington and Richard in the passing game
The Bucs last week were able to gain 47 yards on five passes to their running backs and other teams have done the same. The Bills linebackers can get caught up in play-action, which causes mistakes in coverage responsibilities as seen in the two videos below.
Also, the linebackers are often too slow to cover faster backs, which should allow Jalen and DeAndre to feast on the defense when running patterns that cross the middle of the field and on screen plays.
Attack the middle of the field with Cook
The Bills gave up six receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns last week to rookie tight end O.J. Howard. As we’ve seen, Raiders tight end Cook can make a meal of secondaries and this week should be no different. Once again we see the Bills linebackers bite hard on the play-action allowing Howard to get to the second level virtually untouched and unguarded.
Oakland should place Cook either in the slot opposite Roberts to spread the Bills defense and create one-on-one opportunities for him, or run a fair amount of play-action to free Cook down the field.
Oakland’s defense must contain Tyrod Taylor
LeSean McCoy is no question a threat. However, I’m more concerned about how Oakland’s linebackers will handle keeping Buffalo’s shifty quarterback in check. As seen here, even with a linebacker spying, the Buccaneers still cannot corral Taylor, which leads to a huge gain.
Don’t look for the Raiders to put a beatdown on Taylor, rather the Raiders line needs to be disciplined and control the line of scrimmage and not allow running lanes to open up for McCoy or Taylor by getting up the field too fast.
On defense, Oakland needs to squelch any ground attack the Bills want to establish and they are even better equipped to do so now with veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman, Perhaps either Marquel Lee, Cory James, or both returning from injury will make an impact as well. Sacking Taylor isn’t as important as containing him. Taylor already has 174 rushing yards through six games and can extend drives with his feet, something Oakland’s defense doesn’t need.
On offense, the Raiders need to establish a ground presence even against such a stingy defense. Last week Oakland didn’t run all over Kansas City but it was enough to keep the defense honest. Oakland needs to attack the Bills’ linebackers through the air, whether that be running backs out of the backfield or with Jared Cook. Carr needs to implement plenty of play-action to keep the defense guessing. Bills slot defender Leonard Johnson grades out at 53.9 in coverage according to ProFootballFocus.com, so Roberts and Patterson need to exploit that mismatch for Carr. Also, moving Cooper in the slot much like we saw last week should be a recipe worth cooking up again. Also worth noting is Bills starting safety Jordan Poyer sprained his MCL last week and is day to day whether or not he will play this Sunday.
All in all, I like this matchup for Oakland. If Todd Downing allows Carr to open up the playbook again this week, I see Oakland leaving Buffalo with another “W” on the schedule. Give me Oakland-31 Bills-20