Oakland Raiders: What Has to Happen to Beat the Green Bay Packers
Oakland sits tied with the surging Denver Broncos for first place in the AFC West, and the team has huge injury problems. Meanwhile, the Packers are coming off a scare at the Meadowlands, which required Aaron Rodgers and their high-powered passing attack to pull out a late-game victory.
On the surface, it would seem that the Raiders have as much chance of beating the Packers in Green Bay this week as a Pop Warner running back has of bowling over Clay Matthews.
But looking carefully, there are subtle factors that can lead to a stunning Raiders victory. It's unlikely, it's improbable, but it's not impossible.
Here are the factors that, if they happen, will lead to an Oakland win and ruin the Packers' quest for a perfect season.
The Raiders Must Pound the Ball and Keep the Packers Offense on the Sidelines
If the Packers have a weakness, it's their defense.
They're ranked 13th in the NFL in stopping the run.
Oakland will most likely be without their star running back Darren McFadden again, who has missed the last several games with a foot injury.
Michael Bush, despite having a poor game against Miami, has filled in nicely, and if the Raiders are going to win this game, Bush probably needs to get the ball 25 times.
Keeping the ball moving and the powerful Packers offense on the sideline is a must for Oakland.
25 carries, 145 yards, 1 rushing touchdown from Bush
15 carries, 70 yards 1 rushing touchdown from others
Minimum 39:00 time of possession
Raiders Defensive Line Must Pressure Rodgers on Every Passing Attempt
Aaron Rodgers is clearly the best quarterback in the NFL and is playing the position at an unprecedented level.
Additionally, he has so many weapons at his disposal that the Raiders secondary, a thoroughly average unit, can't shut down all of them.
So how can Oakland possibly stop this juggernaut?
Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and the rest of the Raiders defensive line must pressure Rodgers on every pass attempt.
The Packers offensive line is ranked 21st in the NFL, with Rodgers sacked 29 times and knocked down 48 times in their 12 games. Getting in Rodgers' face is going to solely fall on the Raiders defensive line, as blitzing a corner or linebacker is just inviting Rodgers to find an open receiver who'll make a huge play.
It's a huge challenge, but there's no way around it for Oakland.
Palmer and a Banged-Up Receiving Corps Must Make Big Plays
The Green Bay Packers have the 31st-ranked pass defense in the NFL.
If there's a clear Achilles Heel, that's it.
The Raiders will need to make plays downfield and exploit that weakness.
However, their two fastest deep threats, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, are expected to miss the game with injuries. With Moore and Ford out, the burden falls on Darrius Heyward-Bey and Chaz Schilens to get in sync with Carson Palmer.
If the Oakland running game stalls, Palmer will have to pick apart the Green Bay secondary and put up points on a major scale.
Does he have the weapons to work with? It will be a long day for the silver and black if he doesn't.
Palmer: 300 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Every Member of the Oakland Secondary Must Play the Game of Their Lives
Even if the D-line does their job and pressures Rodgers all day, the quarterback is still going to get his pass attempts.
Oakland's pass defense is ranked 17th in the NFL, but they have yet to face an offense like Green Bay's.
In order to win, they'll need at least one takeaway, and each member of the defensive backfield will have to play the best game of their careers. The Packer QB/receiver combination is that good.
Hold Rodgers to 225 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT
A Happy Ending?
The Raiders face a seemingly insurmountable task this week in Green Bay, and seeing the requirements that they need to fulfill in order to win makes it seem even tougher.
But as the saying goes, "On any given Sunday..."