Thanks to The 5er for this awesome take heading into tonight's game:
Hello Relevance, Nice to see
you again. It’s been a long while…
13 years 9 months and 18 days
to be exact. That’s 720 weeks, or 120,960 hours since we last saw you… depending
on how you want to look at it.
Yep, that was the 2002 AFC
We weary desert travelers
have been mislead by many a mirage since then. So many disappointments, it’s
hard to even list.
Sure, there have been a few
big games for the Raiders since then (i.e 2012 against SD to get into the
playoffs, maybe last year against KC to stay in the playoff race).
The difference between then
and now is that while those were important games for us, they had little
significance for the larger NFL landscape. There were still many teams far
beyond our reach. We were simply
battling for some degree of superiority among the NFL’s middle class.
This one is different.
Make no mistake about it this
is the MARQUEE matchup in the NFL. Not only this week, but for the entire
season up until now. The most anticipated by all media outlets and the one NBC
is drooling over. And guess what? After 5040 days, it finally includes the
I wrote last year that the KC
game was a defining moment on our return to relevance, and it was.
Unfortunately for us that day, we were not yet ready. It signified that we were
still a few players and some additional experience at QB away from being able
to beat a sound team in a big game and make a legitimate push in the post
I have many of the same
thoughts about this one. There are very similar undertones surrounding this
week. Despite our recent success on the road and our proud 6-2 record, there
are still some questions surrounding the potential of this team.
Has the defense really
improved of late or are we the beneficiary of playing two of the worst offenses
in the NFL?
Can our offense continue to
bail us out against a playoff caliber defense as we get into December and
We have made huge strides in
learning how to win again, but are we really poised to take the final step and
win a game of this magnitude?
Those answers are going to be
revealed tonight… and it’s going to be on the NFL’s grand stage.
Now with the table set lets
get to some of the in game details, or keys to victory as you might say.
#1 – Outcoach em’
Much like the KC game last
year, I think this game will come down to coaching and our offensive game plan.
What kind of adjustments will we make this week to mix in some new looks and
try to keep that defense off balance?
Denver’s success is mostly
dependant on getting quick pressure with that front 4. They lead the league in
QB pressures, being able to do so on 41% of passing plays. They also generate a
sack 8% of that time.
That kind of pressure forces
quick decisions and typically short routes. Their secondary then always gets to
play on its toes, jumping the short routes and keeping the game in front of
them in the 5-15 yard range. It’s a philosophy that reminds me a lot of the
great Tampa defenses. And they force a lot of turnovers with it.
Musgrave needs to mix it up
well to keep them off balance. I think this needs to include some good
playaction, and a willingness to take some shots down the field to keep them on
their heels. If we play the ultra conservative move the chains type of game
plan all night I think we play right into their hands.
I’d also like to see a good
dose of the no huddle. I think it keeps the tempo up where Carr is more
comfortable and we can dictate the action.
#2 – Don’t let the Game
Manager manage the game.
Seimian is young end
inexperienced but he has proven to be effective as a game manager. Well, the
way to get him out of that comfort zone is to get ahead of them and make him
play from behind.
SD was able to build a 2 TD
lead two weeks ago and it made the Donkeys look like a different team on
offense. This point obviously goes hand in hand with point #1. Have to attack
on offense to build a lead. Trying to play them in a close, 17-14 or 20-17 type
game favors Seimian and the Broncos dramatically.
#3 – Minimize critical
penalties and TO’s
This one probably goes
without saying. Obviously a performance like either of the last two weeks and
we will be in serious trouble, regardless of how well we do anything else.
#4 – Believe you BELONG
Success in the NFL is a
fickle thing… hanging delicately in the balance almost each and every week.
Despite our 6-2 record there are undoubtedly (and rightfully) some questions in
our player’s minds about whether they are really among the league’s elite.
Belief in what you are
capable of is the most important part of taking this final step.
Much of the success the
Patriots experience these days is because they believe they are elite… and to
some extent they manifest that reality.
Bottom line - All of our
arguments and disagreements about the rebuild process along the way are pretty
much irrelevant. How we drafted, busted in free agency, missed on coaches.
Whether it should have taken 4 long years or not…
The fact of the matter is we ARE
here. We ARE relevant. The NFL knows it. The media knows it.
The time is NOW. Take the
final step and become an elite team. Your home crowd will be raucous. I want a
Silver and Black avalanche of effort and will.
I want to hear Papa
thundering down all night…
And so it will be on this
night, we have officially ARRIVED!