The 1-1 Oakland Raiders will take on the 2-0 Denver Broncos at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum today. The Raiders come into the game mired in a passing game slump, while the Broncos are still trying to find a consistent offensive output.
The Raiders waived Louis Rankin in order to promote Jonathan Holland from the practice squad. Holland will be in the lineup as a cornerback and a possible kick and punt returner. Michael Huff will be starting at free safety in place of Hiram Eugene who is inactive today due to a lower leg injury.
Here are the inactives for the Raiders:
QB Charlie Frye
DB Hiram Eugene
G Robert Gallery
G Paul McQuistan
WR Chaz Schilens
WR Javon Walker
WR Nick Miller
TE Brandon Myers
The following are the inactives for the Denver Broncos:
QB Tom Brandstater
WR Kenny McKinley
WR Brandon Lloyd
ILB/FB Spencer Larsen
OLB/DE Jarvis Moss
G Seth Olsen
T Brandon Gorin
DL Chris Baker
If the Raiders expect to come away with the victory, they’ll have to accomplish the following keys to the game:
Key #1: Get off to a fast start – Rather than forcing JaMarcus Russell into his fourth straight fourth-quarter comeback, the Raiders would be smart to get a quick lead and force the struggling Broncos offense into catching up. In order for the Raiders to start strong, they’ll need Russell to throw accurately–something he has yet to do this season (46.6 QB rating).
Key #2: Limit the running game – Kyle Orton has yet to prove that he can carry the load in Denver. That would leave the onus of the offense on the shoulders of Correll Buckhalter, who averaged 8.4 yards per carry last week against the Browns. When Buckhalter is tired, rookie Knowshon Moreno will be in carrying the load. The Raiders rush defense has been better than past years, but they’ll have to be a little better than average in the hot sun beating down on them in the coliseum. Wearing black in 90+ degree temperatures will require the defense to get off the field as fast as they can.
Key #3: Establish a short game – Whether they find a consistent running game or a short passing game, the Raiders need to keep the Broncos defense on their toes and move the chains on a consistent basis. The word is out on Russell about him looking for Zach Miller over the middle, so Russell will need help mixing up the offensive plays in order to prevent the Denver defense from keying on his favorite target.
Key #4: Excel on special teams – With both offenses struggling this season, it will be even more important if the Raiders can change field position on a punt by Shane Lechler or a return by whomever the Raiders have in the return role (it’s uncertain at game time who that will be). Giving Russell and the rest of the Raiders offense a short field while extending Orton’s distance to paydirt will pay dividends in the long run.
These keys are pretty general and basic. Against a team such as the Broncos, they are enough to win while playing at home.