Sitting at 6-7, one game back behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders find themselves desperate. Now, the term “must win” also made its way around. Yet, with only two games to go after this weekend, this fits.
Sitting two games back from either the Chiefs or Chargers (and no tiebreakers) will ultimately end any chance of Oakland making the playoffs . Therefore, winning at home versus Dallas is the number one goal. Forget last week’s poor performance versus the Chiefs. The Raiders must mentally prepare for the playoff type game on primetime Sunday night. This game boils down to these two keys for the Raiders.
Get to Dak
Since losing Ezekiel Elliott in week 10, the Cowboys are 2-3. In the three games Dallas lost, opponents sacked Dak Prescott 14 times and intercepted five. During their current two game winning streak, Prescott endured one sack and hasn’t thrown an interception in 52 attempts. Therefore, with Prescott being the Cowboys biggest weapon, getting to the second-year quarterback is key to a Raiders victory.
Since John Pagano took over the reins on defense week 12, the unit is averaging four sacks per game. Big reason to the defenses success so far is Pagano’s ability to let Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack free on opposing offenses. That needs to happen again this Sunday night against Dallas. Dallas employs a sturdy offensive line, so Pagano needs to dial up some creative plays to allow the duo to chase Prescott. If they are able to, bad throws and decisions should follow.
Downing, Let the Offense Loose
All week, fans heard Jack Del Rio and Derek Carr that players are pissed off. Well, no better way to venr aggression and stay within a game then the offense dominating on Sunday Night Football.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing needs to channel the gameplan from the first Chiefs game of 2017. Give Marshawn Lynch more than seven carries in this game and integrate Beast mode early and often. This will not only get Lynch going, but also setup the deep ball for Michael Crabtree and Cordarrelle Patterson. With that, use the screens as an extension of the running game. This approach keeps the Cowboys defense on their toes. Give Carr some freedom to call plays on the fly when the offense is rolling. This offense is capable, even without Amari Cooper, of doing great things on the football field. Therefore, Downing, it is time to let the lion out of its cage against the Cowboys on Sunday.