Oakland Raiders: Storylines @ Green Bay Packers
Bret Armstrong – Dec 10, 2011There are more questions than answers circling the Oakland Raiders heading into their match-up with the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers. Criticism engulfed the team during the past week following a rather despicable loss in Miami last week.
Amongst all the inconsistencies lies doubt. A doubt that the Raiders can beat the Packers at Lambeau; doubts about being able to win at all with certain key players absent, and a doubt that the Raiders are playoff bound.
What can the Raiders possibly do to win on the road this weekend and silence the doubters?
In order to beat the Green Bay Packers this year, a team will likely have to out score them. With all of the injuries that the Raiders have incurred this season, that's going to be a lofty task.
And then they got hurt.
Now Palmer has had a couple of weeks working with Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and his old pal T.J. Housemandzadeh. And of course, Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to be coming along nicely after picking up the new offensive style a little slower than the others.
If Palmer and company have developed good chemistry this week, they still have a legit shot to put up some points for the offense.
Slowing the Champs Down
Some skeptics have a hard time believing this defense can hold its own against an offense such as the Green Bay Packers. There have been times this season where they have struggled against less impressive units.
But the key for this defense is getting help from the offense. Last week in Miami, there was virtually no offense the entire first half, and despite the fact that middle linebacker Rolando McClain missed most of the game-planning, the unit still held the Dolphins to just 13 first half points.
I believe the defense can in fact keep the Packers offense to a reasonable end of the game score, but they are going to need a little help from their offensive mates this week.
The pressure to keep Green Bay's offense off the field will not fall on the defense, but rather on the offensive line. Although the more pressure the Raiders defensive line can put on Aaron Rodgers, the better off the Raiders will be.
Get Back to Raiders Football
Some people think that the Raiders need to find an identity, but the fact is they already have an identity; they just need to perform better. Last week in Miami, the team looked like they were still sleeping.
This team has the feel of a team that is a classic Championship contenderâ€”run the ball and play good defense all the while keeping the opponents offense off the field.
But when your half back is only gaining 1.8 yards per carry, obviously that theory goes out the window. Once again it comes down to the offensive line.
Now, I'm not sure if the lineman felt like they were done working for this season because they were receiving so much praise for the job they had been doing, or if they just got whooped last weekend, but I know they need to realize that this season is not over yet.
As for Carson Palmer, just get rid of the ball. He said Wednesday that one of his strengths is waiting until the last moment for his receiver to break open. Okay Carson, but there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes its three steps and throw, mate. Help the line help you.
Whole New Season
The mantra of the Raiders this week is that their record is 0-0 and they need to go 4-0 to get a fifth game. Although there is no judging how refreshing it is to push reset on your record, the only thing a fan can hope for is that this method works.
Right now the Denver Broncos are making it tough on almost everybody to beat them. They have won six of their last seven and currently hold a tie breaker over the Raiders for the divisional crown. That tie breaker is an extra divisional win, with their division record being 3-2 while the Raiders are 2-2 in the division.
The Raiders are in the driver's seat if they in fact do win out. And somebody is going to beat the Packers this season because it's nearly impossible to go 19-0.
The Raiders are an extraordinarily talented team this season, it's just a shame most of that talent is on the injury list and has been for a lot of cumulative time this season. Seems like if it isn't one guy, it's another.
That said,it's going to take a small miracle for the Raiders to go 4-0 over the last quarter of the season. But having faith in what the coaching staff is preaching is a good start on that trek.
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