Can one possibly think of the Raiders without first and foremost thinking about Al Davis? Its not that I think nobody has had the impact on the Raiders that Davis had; I KNOW nobody has. Davis not only helped form the AFL (what is today the AFC) but owned the Raiders for nearly 50 years. The last eight or nine seasons have been rough in Oakland, but when the Raiders come to town the Falcons will not take pity on the poor souls from the West Coast.
Offensively, the Raiders goals are similar to what the Falcons are. They like to ground and pound you into submission, then toss the ball deep down the field for the receivers. Unfortunately, both teams have found that doesn’t always work out perfectly, but when they are pounding with the running game, they are a good offensive club.
The line isn’t overly stout, but that’s okay when you have Carson Palmer at quarterback. He may not be the most mobile QB in the league, but he is very adept at avoiding pressure in the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field. They have a crew of blisteringly fast receivers who streak down the field, and Palmer is a guy who can get it to them. The problem is that the receivers don’t have much beyond speed with which to challenge defenses. Anything that isn’t simply outrunning the coverage of the defense is beyond what they seem to be capable of. If the Falcons secondary can prevent the receivers from getting behind them, they won’t have much to worry about from the Raiders. Route running isn’t their forte.
Pro-Bowl running back Darren McFadden is a great asset for the team, but he is also often injured. He missed the majority of 2011 with injuries, and backup Michael Bush did a great job in relief. However, Bush left in free-agency, and McFadden really needs to step it up as well as stay healthy for the Raiders to be successful. That remains something to be seen.
Defensively, the Raiders are the heaping lump of slag that can be retrieved from the smelter at the junk yard. Somehow the Raiders ended up wildly over the salary cap, and needed to cut a lot of expensive players just to make things work. They cut Stanford Routt, their best cover corner, in order to free up cap space. What they have left is a miserable defensive group that the Falcons should prey upon.
Oakland runs a 4-3 defense, and the teeth of that defense (such that it is) is Richard Seymour. He isn’t the player that he once was, but he can still be an impact player. Aside from him, there isn’t a player that really concerns me on that defense. The second best player in my mind is Middle Linebacker Rolando McClain who didn’t play especially well in his first two seasons, and is a criminal. Literally, he began serving a 180 day stint on June 1. The defense is not in good shape.
The Falcons can burn this team. With the bye week coming up, the Falcons could certainly use an easier game to really fine tune the offense, and work on some things defensively. This is the perfect game for that. Now it is never good to underestimate any opponent no matter who it is, or where they are. I think the Falcons will take care of business and roll to a win, bringing their record to 6-0. They need a BYE before facing off against a revamped Philadelphia Eagles in week 8, and they will be well rested for a date with their inter-division matchup. Falcons beat Oakland 41-14.