This is a slideshow of my favorite football team the Oakland Raiders. This will show which players on the other teams the Raiders play this season will need to be stopped in order for our beloved Raiders to pull out a win.
On opening day the Raiders play the Tennessee Titans at L.P. Field. The atmosphere will be electric and both teams will be ready to go.
The onus here is on the Raiders front seven. Stopping Chris Johnson's crazy ability to run the football is a must. Beyond being only the 6th guy in NFL history to rush for 2,000 + yards, the guy has no quit in him. The Raiders need go into this game knowing that Chris Johnson will get his yards no matter what.
They should instead try to hold him to 80-120 yards on 24-30 carries, without scoring. This will then force QB Vince Young to be the playmaker on offense, and we have seen that Young at times isn't the most productive passer in the league.
The Raiders will be playing the St. Louis Rams in their home opener. The Raider Nation will surely be out in full force to see their team in action for the first time on their home field.
Steven Jackson is a brilliant running back for the St. Louis Rams. The thing with St. Louis is that they are a very one dimensional team, relying on Steven Jackson's production for the bulk of their offense. Stopping Jackson is a necessity for the Raider's defensive line (Seymour, Henderson, and Kelly). This will force the ball into the hands of an inexperienced quarterback (Sam Bradford) thereby making him throw into the Raiders experienced defensive secondary.
This will work in the Raiders favor with guys like Asomugah, Huff, and Branch out in the defensive backfield making it difficult for receivers to get open.
Week Three sends Oakland to the desert for a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have a great team and have made deep playoff runs the past couple years. With the retirement of Kurt Warner they now had turn to Matt Lienart to lead their explosive offense.
But the best player on the Cards by far is Larry Fitzgerald. The Raiders have a tall order (no pun intended) in defending the 6' 3" Fitzgerald. What the Raiders have to do in this instance is not exactly physically defend Fitzgerald.
The best defense of this legendary receiver is by pressuring Matt Lienart, making him get rid of the ball early. Also in the defensive backfield they need to have Asomugah man up with Fitzgerald with safety help (Huff or Branch) over the top.
Week Four brings the Houston Texans to the Black Hole. One of Houston's biggest weapons is unbelievable receiver Andre Johnson.
This is a more difficult matchup as Matt Schaub is an extremely poised quarterback. The idea here for the Raiders is to pressure Matt Schaub as much as possible and force him to get rid of the ball quickly. This can also lead to the Texans leaning away from the pass and going to their run game, which is less productive. Forcing the ball into the hands of Steve Slaton will make things easier for the Raiders D.
Also, top-flight cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah will have yet another difficult matchup with Johnson but as long as he can keep Johnson in check and his safety help is adequate their is a chance to win.
The hated Chargers come to the Black Hole for week Five. This is a team that our Raiders have lost to 13 times in a row. Nothing screams revenge match like the Raiders vs. the Chargers.
The Chargers have multitude of ways to attack (run or pass). But the most important thing for the Raiders to do is to pressure Philip Rivers and make him get rid of the ball. Rivers (regardless of how much we Raider fans hate him) is a brilliant quarterback who consistently make decisions on the fly and under pressure. Sacking Rivers and making sure he can't throw the ball is a necessity.
Putting the ball into the hands of Darren Sproles and rookie back Ryan Matthews will make things a bit easier for the Raiders in allowing their front seven to focus on stopping the run rather than having to constantly put their ears back and get to Rivers.
Week Six brings us the Battle of the Bay. The Raiders must travel across they bay to meet the hated 49ers.
The 49ers are quite a unique team in that they can attack from a variety of ways (run to Gore or pass to Vernon Davis). In my opinion Frank Gore is the bigger threat. Due to the history of the Raider run defense, Frank Gore could have a brilliant day so stopping him must be a priority for the Raiders.
The front seven must tackle well, as Gore runs extremely hard and does not go down easy. He needs to be wrapped up and brought down as quickly as possible. Getting the ball out of Gore's hands will put it in untested QB Alex Smith's.
Smith has had a few good games but he also has some issues in reading the field and allowing the play to develop. So with this happening the Raider secondary can focus on a wide-receiver corps containing Michael Crabtree and the blazingly fast Ted Ginn Jr.
Week Seven continues the Raider's road trip. Denver and the hated Broncos are next on the list. A team that got rid of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall does not appear on paper to have many threats on the offensive side of the ball.
Champ Bailey is a giant problem, but he plays defense and quite frankly he isn't getting any younger. So in my opinion the biggest threat is WR Eddie Royal. Royal is young and incredibly fast. The Raiders need to pressure the quarterback (Orton, Quinn, or Tebow) and force the ball into the hands of Knowshon Moreno.
Keeping Eddie Royal out of rhythm will make the Broncos a one dimensional team and will force them to look for other ways to beat the Raiders.
Week Eight brings the Seahawks to the black hole. The Seahawks have the ability to be a good team but age has slowed some of their star players (Matt Hasselback). So T.J. Houshmandzadeh is, in my opinion, their biggest threat.
Like other big receivers I have mentioned in this slideshow, the same goes for him. Talented and fast, Houshmandzadeh can be neutralized by pressuring Matt Hasselback and forcing them to handoff to Julius Jones rendering their offense ineffective.
Now Jones has the ability to be a good back but has not lived up to his potential.
Also with Nnamdi covering Houshmandzadeh with safety help this makes it a bit easier to neutralize the Seahawks passing game.
Up to this point the Raiders have had some incredibly tough match-ups. This week is no different. With the Chiefs coming to Oakland they bring with them a talented young receiver in Dwayne Bowe.
With a quarterback with the potential of Matt Cassel the Chiefs could be an offensive force. Guarding Bowe is a must for the Raiders. Asomugah should shadow him and again with safety help (Branch and Huff) the Raiders can render him obsolete. Pressuring Matt Cassel and forcing the ball into Jamaal Charles' hands should make life easier for the Raiders.
Even though Charles has big play potential, if the Raiders tackle well they should have no problem in giving the Chiefs a hard time on the field.
Week 11 brings a rivalry that has created some nasty football moments. Traveling to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers is something the Raiders had to do last year.
By beating the hated Steelers, Bruce Gradkowski was put head and shoulders above Jamarcus Russell. To stop the Steelers the Raiders will have to punish Ben Roethlisberger. Sacking him and forcing him to throw the ball early while also making him hand it off will be the keys to success against the Steelers.
Making Ben hand off to Rashard Mendenhall and perhaps Jonathan Dwyer will ease what the Raiders need to do. The secondary needs to focus on Hines Ward and Randle El. So by making the Steelers a run first team this shpuld allow the Raiders to use their front seven to its full effectiveness.
Pressuring Ben and sacking him multiple times (perhaps bring back a little bit of that criminal element?) will make his life in the pocket difficult and incredibly uncomfortable.
Every Raider fan knows who this ugly mug belongs to. A thorn in the Raiders side for many seasons (as a Bronco) is now in Miami. And in Miami he is their biggest threat.
Asomugah and Marshall is going to be a great matchup. Nnamdi needs his safety help as usual but also pressuring Chad Henne or Chad Pennington will greatly aid the Raiders in getting rid of this thorn in their side. Forcing them to use Ronnie Brown more often will play into the jaws of the Raider defense.
The wrinkle the Dolphins use (The Wildcat) will have to be accounted for at all times.
The Jaguars are a team which has plenty of upside. David Garrard is quite a good quarterback, but when it comes to threats Maurice Jones Drew is the biggest on their team.
This bruising running back can rack up yards until the cows come home. So the Raider front seven needs to make strong armed tackles and make sure that Jones-Drew goes down when he's hit.
By containing Jones-Drew and making Garrard throw to a receiving corps populated by Kassim Osgood and Mike Sims-Walker the Raiders should have an easier time pulling of the win against Jacksonville.
Last But certainly not least is the Indianapolis colts and Peyton Manning coming to Oakland in Week 14.
Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever grace an NFL field. Making him uncomfortable in the pocket and taking away his receiving options is a huge necessity for Oakland. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark must be taken care of because if they are not Manning will tear the Raiders apart.
Respecting his ability is key. Forcing him to make tough decisions and react quickly (Superbowl anyone?) and thereby increasing the potential for turnovers is something the Raiders can and should do.
Well that's all. What do my fellow Raider Fans think??