Raiders vs. Packers: 5 Reasons to Believe Oakland Can Land the Upset

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2011

Raiders vs. Packers: 5 Reasons to Believe Oakland Can Land the Upset

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    In every sense of the word, the 7-5 Oakland Raiders now have their backs against the wall. The Denver Broncos have moved into a first-place tie with the Raiders for the AFC West division lead.

    While the Broncos are at home to face the injury-riddled Chicago Bears, the Raiders are traveling to the frozen tundra to face the Green Bay Packers. Just the sound of that hurts, with the Raiders fighting for their playoff lives, but anything can happen in the game of football.

    There are actually some reasons to believe the Raiders can pull off a colossal upset on Sunday.

    Turn the page to see what those reasons are.

The Running Game

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    Even though it was shut down last week, the Raiders still have a running game that they lean on. They will especially have to lean on it in Green Bay, because temperatures will be in the 20s or 30s for the game.

    I honestly think that it's better for the Raiders to have Michael Bush at running back in this game than it would to have Darren McFadden. Frozen fields are very hard for slashing running backs like McFadden to make their cuts.

    A big back like Bush won't look to slash—he will simply pound the rock.

    The Packers are No. 13 against the run, but give up a third-to-last-in-the-NFL 4.9 yards per attempt. I look for the Raiders to get Bush and their No. 4-ranked rushing offense back on track Sunday.

    That's pretty much what the weather dictates anyway.

The Passing Game

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    In a post-practice interview shown on CSN, Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said, "Lambeau Field is my favorite place to play." I have to lean toward him telling the truth, as he is 2-0 against the Packers with a quarterback rating over 100.

    It may really be his favorite place to play this year, as the Packers give up almost 300 yards per game through the air this year. It is not known if Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford will play against the Packers yet, but I would sleep better knowing that at least one of them was playing.

    Chaz Schilens, who looked to be on his way to a 100-yard game before injuring his foot last week, is practicing and will play in the game. Jackson really needs to not forget about fullback Marcel Reece on Sunday, because there isn't a linebacker in the league that can cover him. 

    Louis Murphy is always a sleeper that performs well in the clutch too.

Run Defense

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    Haven't we been talking about this too long in Raider Nation?

    If the Raiders can somehow stop the run in this game, they will have a better chance to win the game. The Packers average 3.8 yards per carry on the ground, but the Raiders made Reggie Bust—I mean Reggie Bush look like Barry Sanders last Sunday.

    I know Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers loves to toss it around, but the the Packers will have to run at points with the freezing temperatures. The Raiders have stopped the likes of Arian Foster this year, so they will have to show up in the same way to take care of Green Bay's Ryan Grant.

    This matchup is bigger than you think.

Pass Defense

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    The reason why the Packers running versus the Raiders defense is so big, is because the Packers won't have their way in the passing game the way they usually do. Their passing attack is all that, but they are a little more stoppable than they seem.

    In their 12 games, the Packers have only seen three top-11 defenses, as the remaining eight have an average ranking of No. 25. The Raiders are ranked only 17 right now, but they are No. 2 over the last eight weeks to the Houston Texans.

    The Raiders defense allowed 49 percent completions, yielded a quarterback rating of 68.6, sacked the quarterback 22 times and intercepted 11 passes during that stretch. The improved pass defense is why the Raiders have climbed from No. 31 to No. 17.

    The Raiders also have something to match up with Rogers, who has thrown for 58 percent, nine touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 132 on passes thrown for over 20 yards in the air. The Raiders defense has yielded a rating of 42, a completion percentage of 22, three touchdowns and six interceptions over footballs thrown the same distance this year.

    The Raiders have shown the ability to take away what the Packers do best.    

Special Teams

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    All the edges belong to kicker Sebastian Janikowksi and punter Shane Lechler in regards to the kicking portion of the special teams. Randall Cobb should be handling both punt- and kick-return duties for the Packers.

    Recent pick-up Bryan McCann should be the guy handling both duties for the Raiders. I'm going to call the return game a wash unless I find out that Raiders kick returner Jacoby Ford will play Sunday.

    Either way, the overall special-teams edge goes to the Raiders.


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    This could be the quintessential trap game for the Packers, who are seeking perfection at 12-0. They have an embarrassed Raiders team going to their place, where they will be prohibited favorites.

    But it just so happens that this Raiders team happens to match up with the Packers well in certain areas. This is much like the not-so-great '85 Dolphins beating the big, bad, undefeated '85 Chicago Bears by having certain characteristics that gave them problems.  

    Remember, the Packers struggled with the New York Giants last week with Eli Manning and the air attack. Manning leads the league in pass plays that result in 40 yards or more with 13.

    The Raiders, especially with a healthy Moore or Ford (at least one of them), should be able to do the same thing. Palmer, in less than half the starts of Manning, is tied for 10th with seven completions going over 40 yards.

    While the big play ability is there for the Raiders, they don't give up big plays as easily as the Giants do. This is not a prediction of any sort, it's just a list of reasons to believe the Raiders could pull off the colossal upset.

    Their season could very well depend on it.