3 Keys to a Raiders Victory Against Denver

The mere mention of the Denver Broncos should elicit compulsive vomiting.

Historically, I don’t think Denver fans are fond of Raider Nation either. If that wasn’t enough of a storyline, last year’s Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has just been promoted to offensive coordinator in Denver. In case you forgot, he was not resigned last year by the Raiders after leading the offense to a Top 5 ranking. Think he still remembers?

The Broncos come to Oakland this Sunday carrying a six-game losing streak. An embarrassing stretch for a team who, like the Raiders, looked strong on paper coming into the season. The once feared defense still full of talent is giving up 31 points per game over the losing stretch and only putting up 14. The lack of offense and a change in defensive coordinator from the highly respected NFL veteran Wade Phillips to a first time defensive coordinator in Joe Woods surely plays a part.

The Raiders, unfortunately, do not fare much better. Coming off an embarrassing loss to the Patriots, after a bye week no less, Raiders have fired their defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and John Pagano, a more experienced coach, steps in to give the defense a bit more respectability. After sitting at 4-6 going into Week 12, the Raiders are somehow still a game and a half behind first place and winning the west is still the Raiders best shot at the playoffs.

Below are three ways the Raiders can hand the Broncos their 7th straight defeat and hobble their way towards an AFC West title.

Pocket Poise

It’s no secret that Derek Carr has taken a big step back this year. Per PFF, Carr’s passer rating under pressure is only 34.7, which is second to last only in front of Denver’s Trevor Siemian. Last year Carr’s passer rating when under pressure was 70. This has been a weird year for the offense as a whole, which is usually pinned to the play of the quarterback. It is hard to say if the change in offensive coordinator has much to do with it. However, some of Carr’s problems cannot be blamed on play-calling alone; throwing off the back foot and rushing throws to name a couple.

Going up against corners like Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. is no easy task, even if they have been under-performing. The coaching staff needs to figure out quickly the reason for the regression and get Carr’s confidence level back up.

Feed The Beast

One positive from last Sunday’s game versus the Patriots was Marshawn Lynch. “Beast Mode” averaged 6.1 yards per carry as he rushed 11 times for 67 yards. The only reason Lynch didn’t get more carries is due to them falling behind early. However, the trend needs to continue for the Raiders to be successful.

Though Denver has played well against the run, the Raiders should pick up chunks behind a powerful offensive line. This will open up the passing game as it will allow Carr to successfully play-action and take advantage of one on one match-ups.

Put Defensive Personnel In Positions To Succeed

With a new and experienced defensive coordinator at the helm, we should see big changes in the defense. That is of course if the head coach allows. One reason the Raiders defense has been so awful is because the defensive unit is asked to do things they are not very good at. And sometimes it feels like the coaching staff just doesn’t get it. When Ravens speedster Mike Wallace beat cornerback Sean Smith for a deep pass down the sideline, coach Del Rio blamed Smith.

Besides scheme changes, a change in personnel is also needed. Reggie Nelson is playing Cover 1 safety while not having the speed, meanwhile, rookie safety Obi Melifonwu was asked to play cornerback despite limited experience.

Below is the defensive scheme and the corresponding personnel which gives the Raiders their best chance at success:

Key Stats
  1. Paxton Lynch, who has been named the starter, has a QBR of 79.2 and a 59% completion rate in his career.
  2. All-Time leaders in passer rating: (per Scott Barrett of PFF)
    1. Aaron Rodgers (2011) — 122.5
    2. Peyton Manning (2004) — 121.1
    3. Tom Brady (2007) — 117.2
    4. Matt Ryan (2016) — 117.1
    5. Peyton Manning (2013) — 115.1
    6. QB’s Facing the Raiders This Year — 113.2

The Broncos are on a roller coaster which is still on its way down. Raiders defense should see a resurgence against the lowly Broncos offense. Carr and the offense do enough at home.

Raiders Win 20 – 9.

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