The Raiders need to control the AFC West, if they have playoff aspirations. With every year, the division continues to evolve and shift. Rivals improve and reload. As a result, the Raiders need to ensure long-term viability and success by building a foundation conducive to winning. 2016 was a magical season. Yet, it appears as an oasis in a desert of recent failure. FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria, Anthony Zaragoza, Chris Simmons, and Pete Camarillo each detail how the Raiders can win the NFC West.
Ground and pound and then cut them deep with play action. If Tom Cable and Jon Gruden get the rushing attack firing on all cylinders, teams will need to bring the heat in the box. In turn, if the aerial attack is on par, the Raiders can go over the top with the play action pass. The Raiders need to get the AFC West teams to bite — since the division is stacked with premiere pass rushing.
With receivers who are capable of making plays down the field, and a few questions at Running Back, I expect a deep field attack. Between their giant sized receivers, hardnosed running backs, and a line that knows each other well there should be plenty of room for Carr to make some fireworks.
Play action. Denver, Los Angeles, and Kansas City all have aggressive playmakers thought out their respected defenses. The best way to counter that style of play is by the same measure. Play action passing that focuses on down field routes with an underneath pattern or two, should help slow down those defenses a bit. The Raiders did a great job of that in 2016 and failed measurably in 2017. Being able to run the ball against these defenses makes this possible. With an offensive line built for that, there should be no issue for Oakland.
The Raiders are going to have to attack the AFC West using their running game. There are too many good edge rushers in the division. The Chargers have two Pro Bowlers. Also, the Broncos boast an All-Pro paired with a top-five pick from this past draft on the edges. Even the Chiefs have Justin Houston. Therefore, the Raiders will need to attack their division rivals by running the ball between the two guards. That is the best way to neutralize speed and explosiveness on the edge. Once the run is established, it not only gives pass blockers a few extra seconds but it can setup the play action pass. At that point, the Raiders can take their shots deep especially since both the Chiefs (Marcus Peters) and Broncos (Aqib Talib) lost their top corner this offseason.