Once again the Oakland Raiders face a “must-win” game here in Week 11.
Losing to the New England Patriots just might put a nail in the playoff coffin. A win does more than give the Raiders a .500 record. It gives them confidence and belief that they can beat anyone. A confidence that should get them wins the next two weeks against the Denver Broncos and N.Y. Giants at home.
Beating the Patriots though, well that’s easier said than done. In order to pull off the upset, these three underperformers need to step up their game and play to their abilities.
It’s a good thing when Brady doesn’t have his hands on the ball. One way to do that is to ground and pound with the most expensive offensive line and arguably the best tackle breaker in the league today. Lynch still has the “juice” to run wild and the Raiders will need him focused, loose and ready to put the offense on his back.
Remember when the Raiders ran all over the Broncos at home last year? Using a similar game plan will keep Brady away from the ball. Finishing those drives with touchdowns will force Brady to become one-dimensional and take away the ground game.
It isn’t ideal to have your best two cornerbacks out against the Patriots offense. With Gareon Conley already sent to IR, it also looks like David Amerson might also be out after not practicing with the team Wednesday or Thursday. This means the backups need to step up. TJ Carrie will be the top corner and has done a fine job all season. Dexter has the skills, as we saw in preseason, and needs to show up with focus and confidence on the opposite side of Carrie. Otherwise, he will get picked on all game.
Best way to neutralize Brady is to put him on his butt and pressure him all game. Unfortunately for the Raiders the pass rush is once again non-existent this year. With Khalil Mack double teamed, the other pass rushers are not winning the one-on-one battles.
Bruce Irvin who put on a show rushing the quarterback last year so far has been a no-show in the pass rush department. If he is to get back to form this year, this is the game to start.
Against below average tackles, Irvin needs to constantly win his one-on-one assignments. Make Brady expect pressure from both sides. Hitting him early will have Brady hearing footsteps as he drops back. If you have been watching football the past decade, you know what happens when he can sit in the pocket and just rip it.