Oakland Raiders: How the Raiders Can Win Double-Digit Games This Season
Cary Emondson-US PRESSWIRE
After watching the Oakland Raiders through their first four games, it seems pretty illogical to say they can win 10 games. However, there are odds in their favor to make this happen. At face value, the Raiders could fall very short of that goal; but any given Sunday has been the biggest custom of the NFL.
Oakland is coming off a bye at the perfect time, and the team has nowhere to go but up. The Raiders have some very winnable games on their schedule, as well as some trap games for their opponents.
Though the team has looked horrible through five weeks, the Raiders still have some positive things to look forward to. They will have their two best receivers back in the lineup on Sunday, and Darren McFadden will try to find his successful ways against a team that is giving up 143 yards per game on the ground.
All it takes is one upset to spark their season, and the Raiders have some favorable matchups to help them along the way. Though it may be a stretch, 10 wins is still a possibility.
Exploit Their Opponent's Secondary
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Carson Palmer has played very consistently through the Raiders' first four games, and he will have the opportunity to take advantage of some pretty bad defenses as the season rolls on.
Throughout his 10-year career, Palmer has been known for making costly turnovers that kill drives. This season, he's only thrown one "real" interception and has put up respectable numbers in the process.
With McFadden struggling and the defense not being able to stop a nosebleed, it will be up to Palmer to put points on the board for the Raiders.
Upset the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday
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But Oakland is coming off a bye, and teams can be quite unpredictable after enjoying an extra week off; especially the ones that were blown out the week before.
Despite being 5-0, the Falcons have looked rather suspect the last two weeks. They needed a 77-yard drive with less than a minute to go to beat the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, and struggled all game long against the banged-up Washington Redskins last week.
Since being embarrassed by Denver two weeks ago, the Raiders have had an extra week to improve their game and clear their minds. Upsetting Atlanta would bolster Oakland's confidence and could set the tone for the rest of the year.
They Must Be Able to Stop the Run
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
There are some pretty horrible things in life: Keystone Light, pouring a bowl of cereal only to find out you're out of milk and the Oakland Raiders' run defense.
The Raiders made Reggie Bush and Willis McGahee look like elite running backs as the two combined for 294 yards and three touchdowns against Oakland's run defense that ranks 24th in the league.
If the Raiders want any shot at 10 wins, they must be able to disrupt the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield quickly. Oakland faces Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew and Jamaal Charles over the next three weeks, and the rest of the season doesn't get any easier.
They also have the test of trying to stop Ray Rice, Trent Richardson and a healthy Ryan Mathews; not to mention Charles and McGahee for the second time.
Needless to say, stopping the run is eminent.
Find Some Way to Get Darren McFadden Going
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The Raiders will only hit the double-digit win mark if Darren McFadden plays well. He is Oakland's best offensive player and has looked like a shell of himself this season.
Most of his struggles have been linked to the zone-blocking scheme implemented by new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. Whatever the case may be, the Raiders will continue to be in serious trouble if they can't get McFadden back to his old self.
Oakland finished 8-8 last season and had a couple of heartbreaking losses along the way that could have put them at the 10-win mark. They had a consistent running game along the way, even when McFadden went down with a Lisfranc injury in Week 7.
With Carson Palmer playing as well as he is, the Raiders would be lethal on the offensive side of the ball if McFadden can return to his old form.
Win the Games They're Supposed To
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At this point in time, it's difficult to say that Oakland should win any game on its schedule. But on a talent scale, the Raiders are better than some of their future opponents.
Oakland gets the horrendous Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7, and the disappointing Kansas City Chiefs the week after. The Jaguars rank near the bottom in every category in the NFL, while the Chiefs are giving up 29 points per game.
The Raiders haven't lost in Arrowhead Stadium since 2006 and could very well walk away with another victory in Week 8.
Oakland will also benefit from playing Tampa Bay and Cleveland at home and will face a New Orleans defense that is giving up a million yards per game. The Raiders must win these games if they want to hit the double-digit mark for the first time since 2003.