In front of millions worldwide and the eyes of the fanbase, The Las Vegas Raiders open their palatial stadium versus the New Orleans Saints. Now, without hyperbole attached, the Raiders need to deliver a win in their home opener. Las Vegas is a city steeped in chance with the hopes of winning. This game should not be any different.
Contain Cameron Jordan
Now, he may not garner the headlines of his contemporaries, but the Saints’ defensive end just makes plays. Without flash or pomp and circumstance, Jordan destroys gameplan. Possessing exceptional size fo a defensive end, he bolsters his frame with a freakish instinct and ability to read the play. Chances remains high that the Saints will flip him occasionally. As a result, Kolton Miller and whoever lines up at right tackle will face an all-day problem. Additionally, Jordan plays under control. Yet, he will make quarterbacks pay for nonsense. To his credit, Jordan plays a fairly clean game. The Raiders need to think about chipping him if the tackle can’t handle him.
Withstand the Early Flurry
Due to the nature of their offense, the Saints love the big, early play. In 2019, twenty-two of their offensive touchdowns occurred on first down. While that number dipped in their first game, the threat remains ever-present. The Raiders must know the early downs are where the Saints hope to cash in. By nature, Drew Payton and Drew Brees love to attack, early and often. Under those circumstances, the pass rush needs to get home. Brees, if allowed to sit back in the pocket, the game will end early, as he picks the defense apart.
Capitalize on Absence
Somehow, the Raiders catch a break with WR Michael Thomas missing this game with a high ankle sprain. For context, in his last 17 games, Michael Thomas saw 190 total targets. Drew Brees fed him like a relative on Thanksgiving. With him out, those passes will see other targets. Yet, none of the remaining players possess Thomas’ hands and route-running acumen. Contrarily, this places pressure on the linebackers and safeties, as well as the corners. Taysom Hill, Alvin Kamara, and Jared Cook, along with Emmanuel Sanders and TreQuan Smith will see more action. For all the talk of an improved defense, the Raiders get the chance to back it up.
Don’t Fear the Shootout
Facing Drew Brees, some teams mistakenly become overly enamored with playing keep away. With Michael Thomas out, the team needs to take the opposite approach. Instead of pounding the ball with Josh Jacobs, as they did in Charlotte, open up the offense and play fast and loose. Place the pressure on the Saints. The offense is the best Las Vegas Raiders. Why run from that? For the first time in a couple of years, Derek Carr can unleash vertically, knowing talent exists to make the play. Now is not the time for any timidity. The Las Vegas Raiders can win this game, provided they don’t get conservative.