Countdown To Paydirt: Packers at Raiders
December 17th, 2003
By Matt Simon, Raiderfans.net
The Oakland Raiders are coming off an impressive win over the Baltimore Ravens and are about to take on the Green Bay Packers, who are still in the playoff hunt. The Raiders have been playing spoiler during their season, in which they have beaten the Ravens, Vikings, and Bengals, all who have a good chance of being playoff bound? Can the Raiders play spoiler again on their home turf?
Can The Raiders Play Spoiler Again? Coming off an unprecedented victory against the Ravens, the Raiders are looking to play spoiler against the Green Bay Packers, who are still in the playoff hunt because of the poor play of the Vikings. The Raiders must contain the Green Bay Packerís ground game, which they will see often. The Raidersí defense finally showed up, letting Jamal Lewis gain 125 yards but no scores. The Raiders held the Ravens with strong defensive stands in the second half, highlighted by a play in which Napoleon Harris used his speed to blitz outside and strip the ball from Anthony Wright before he could even hand off the Jamal Lewis. The Raiderís defense also held the Ravens when they made the score closer, only allowing twelve points the whole game. The Raiders are not playing for a playoff birth, but they are showing the NFL that they could be a force to be reckoned with, like what the Vikings did in the last few games of last season.
Can The Packers Make The Playoffs? Right now the Packers are tied with the Vikings for the division lead in the NFC North. With the Vikings on a downhill slide for the whole second half of this season, the Packers can take advantage and clinch the NFC North. The Packers and Vikings started out the season 11-1 in the first six weeks, and have gone 5-11 in the next six. The Packers have won two in a row however, and they could win a third against the Raiders this week. If the Raiders contain Ahman Green however, we could have a very interesting playoff picture in the NFC North. The Packers might not even be able to make the playoffs after winning their last two games.
Has The Raiders Defense Finally Awaken? After an impressive showing, the Raiders defense may have another good game against another top rusher. The Raiders did hold Jamal Lewis to over 100 yards last week, but he was unable to get into the end zone and did not give his teammates help when they needed him. Napoleon Harris has shined at strong-side linebacker, making an incredibly impressive play in which he stripped Anthony Wright of the ball before Wright could hand it off to Jamal Lewis. Harris has been used more as a blitzer and has been successful in doing it. He had 3 sacks at defensive end in his senior year at Northwestern. Phillip Buchanon had an impressive interception in which he almost returned for a touchdown. Rod Coleman finally became a pass rushing threat, racking up two sacks on the mobile Wright. If the Raiders defense is ready for an encore, they can beat the Packers.
Can Ahman Green be Stopped By the Raiders? Green stars in one of the, if not the best, running games in the NFL. He hits the inside hard, and has great speed. He is also an explosive runner who can rush for big chunks of yardage. The Raiders linebackers, who have enjoyed several weeks of success, might contain Greenís speed. Napoleon Harris is fast and athletic and will need to keep up to Green. Eric Barton must catch Green in the trenches before he gets to the open field. The Raidersí defensive line must create holes for their linebackers to make plays in. If the Raiders can shut down the Packers explosive running game, they can win this game.
Offensive Philosophy: The Packers like to use their running game most of the time. The Packers also have talented receivers in Robert Ferguson, Javon Walker, and Donald Driver, but all are inconsistent. Walker has developed into a Jerry Porter sort of player, becoming a red-zone threat, as Porter was last year. With Brett Favre playing with a thumb injury, look for the Packers to use their running game more than usual. The Raiders have also struggled against the run this year, and the Packers cannot rest Ahman Green, because they do not have a guaranteed playoff birth and their quarterback has a thumb injury.
Running Game The Packersí running game is their main strength. Led by Ahman Green, the Packers can wear down any defense with their running game. Ahman Green will get about twenty-five carries this game. His lead blocker is the reliable William Henderson, who has shown signs of aging but is still one of the top lead-blockers in the NFL. The reason Green was traded from Seattle was because of his fumbling problem, and it has followed him to Green Bay. A turnover would be very costly in a game that will be close and matters so much for the Packers. Najeh Davenport is more of a straight-ahead runner who has a running style similar to Tyrone Wheatleyís. If the game turns into a blowout, Davenport will be brought in to keep Green rested for their next game. The Packers also Tony Fisher at running back, who lacks burning speed but has great up field vision.
Passing Game Favre is on the downside of his career, but he can still be a quality starting quarterback. Favre is a tough competitor and has great arm strength. He has lost most of his mobility, and look for Napoleon Harris to be used as a blitzer from the outside more. Favre will also make bad throws when he is under pressure. Ahman Green will catch some short passes from the outside, and he has the vision to make something happen with the ball in his hands, whether it be a run or a pass. Javon Walker plays the same role as Jerry Porter did with the Raiders last year, being third on the depth chart but leading the team in touchdowns. Look for Najeh Davenport and Ahman Green to be used more in the red-zone offense however, as the Packers will be passive to throw with Brett Favreís thumb in mind. Favre is questionable with a thumb injury, but Favre will almost definitely play. Donald Driver has been plagued by inconsistency this year, but the Raiders could get him on a good day, and that could prove to be costly. Driver has plenty of speed has great hands and is almost automatic when a pass hits him in stride. Robert Ferguson is a receiver with good hands and he runs solid routes. Both Raidersí corners can beat these receivers in coverage, and it seems that the Packers will end up doing most of their damage through the ground.
Key Match-Up Ahman Green vs. Napoleon Harris: This will be the key factor in who wins this game. If Harris can contain Green with his athleticism, the Raiders will win. If Greenís speed and moves beat Harris, then the game will go in the Packerís favor. Harris is instinctive and uses his strength and speed to make plays. Look for this match-up to go in favor of Green, but not by a huge amount. Harrisí supporting cast has not helped him much, and if there were more holes for Harris to make plays in, he would have the advantage. Look for Green to go over 100 yards but not make it so the Packers can put the Packerís offense on Greens legs and they will win.
Defense The Packerís offense is bolstered by their speedy rookie Nick Barnett. Barnett is a smart player who was the fastest linebacker in the draft last year. He has been used as a blitzer as well, racking up two sacks this year. Akbar Gbaja-Biamilaís brother Kabeer, is an impressive blitzer who has seen plenty of double teams this year. Look for these double teams to help Cleditus Hunt and Grady Jackson, as the Raidersí offensive line has not been able to stay healthy. Mike McKenzie is a top cover corner. Al Harris is an athletic and speedy corner who will cause trouble for Raidersí receivers. Hannibal Navies and Naíil Diggs are playmakers at outside linebacker. Darren Sharper is a hard-hitting safety, and Marques Anderson is not playing well this year.
Offensive Philosophy: Look for the Raiders to shy away from passing this game, as the Packers have two top cover corners. Jerry Porter will have trouble with the Packersí safeties as well. He has never broken out and established himself as a playmaker because of a hernia injury. The Raiders will try to use Charlie Garner more, as the Packers have a giant front two at defensive tackle. Garner must use his sprinterís speed to beat Hannibal Navies and Naíil Diggs. The Raiders will also shy away from passing because Rick Mirer has made plenty of erratic throws that remind Raiders fans why he was a third string quarterback.
Running Game The Raiders running game will need to play well for the Raiders to have a shot in this game. Tyrone Wheatley will not get many carries as he will have limited success against the Packers huge defensive line. Charlie Garner will be the feature back and get the majority of his carries on sweeps. The Raidersí might use fullback Chris Hetherington more because of Garnerís sub-par play this year. Garner would benefit greatly with a lead blocker.
Passing Game The Raiders have learned in their past three games that their passing game is not to be used as a main weapon in their offense. Tim Brown and Jerry Rice have not been threats in the red zone, with less than five touchdown receptions between both of them. Jerry Porter has also played badly, unable to separate from safeties and he has been completely invisible this season. It is almost like the Raiders have ten people on the field.
Key Match-Up Charlie Garner vs. Nick Barnett: The Raiders must try to use Garner as their main weapon and hope for the best. Garner is going against the speedy Nick Barnett who is a frontrunner for defensive rookie of the year. He has been a playmaker against both the run and the pass and will give Garner trouble. Garner will need quality blocking up field blocking from his receivers. If Garner has a bad game, the Raiders will end up losing the game.
Defense The Raiders defense finally woke up and had a good game against the Ravens. They played incredibly well against a top rusher in Jamal Lewis. Phillip Buchanon made an acrobatic interception and almost returned it for a touchdown. Charles Woodson has not had many balls thrown his way, making it evident that opposing offenses are afraid of him. Napoleon Harris has played exceptionally, as well as Eric Barton. Barton enjoyed a great game against Lewis, his best this year. Tyler Brayton has used his great motor to constantly pressure the quarterback, and Rod Coleman enjoyed resurgence as a quality pass rusher. He had two sacks last week. Derrick Gibson and Anthony Dorsett had horrible games against the Ravens.
Prediction The Raiders have a legitimate shot at this game. If Charlie Garner has a good game, the Raiders can win this game. With the Packers playing badly for the past several games, the Raiders can help keep them out of the playoffs. If Napoleon Harris can disrupt Brett Favre and shut down Ahman Green, the Raiders have this game. If Green runs all over the Raiders however, the Raiders will be unable to win. Look for the first one to happen.
Prediction: Raiders 31, Packers 24
Sources: NFL.com ESPN.com
Last edited by liebo84; 12-17-2003 at 04:09 PM.
Gravy Jackson returns to Oakland, Green bay's big DT take up blockers to let KGB and Barnett make plays. The O line is the matchup we want to emphasize. With Mirer showing few deep looks McKenzie will do his usual physcial style and be more aggressive until he repsects our deep look.
The Pack OL uses movement/technique and position. They are great pull/trap blockers who slide screen well. The best comparison we have is the Denver offense. Favre's bootleg/waggle is pure downfield pass look unless he drag screens a down reciever/back.
A completely different look than we saw last week. Wrap Ahman up, the fumbles will come when he tires/hits the wall. If he stays fresh he can break big plays so make him expend energy early. The pack has a lot of change of pace looks as well, and when Favre's thumb is right he takes a lot of 7 step drops to set the Delay Run/ Screen pass up.
Expect more slide screens than deep drop looks unless Favre's thumb is going for deep looks well. They have taken more 5 drops of late, over 2/3 of their snaps for passes. They avoid classic 3 step looks even on blitzes more because it leaves more chance for Favre to get his if he steps up via after pass contact on a good throw release...
The first 2 possessions and how Favre's injury responds will dictate their play calling for the game. Favre tends to get impatient early if crowd noise is going . He knows a quick score can change the factors of noise. Expect him to try a knockout punch early.
Seven steps, deep looks to Driver and deep ins to Walker/Fergy if healthy. Five steps and In routes if he is moderate. If he is hurting with thumb condition he will use 7 step ONLY for screen/delay runs.
Expect their counter looks to test edge contain. One deep I sets or the one back set deep (past 5 yards) look for an influence step. A lead-out run in off tackle or standard sweep look. Sweep when Walker is that side slot, off tackle on the counter step dive/blast that follows the pullgard as an influence block to the edge.The hard sell counter from a deep set will come to strong side if there at least 2 blockers over that side. Otherwise the counter sell is away from Strong side. Raiders new strong side look will force the Pack to overload most of the time.Certain areas of the field, if weathered, will not rely on counters as the Hb may need to focus on maintaining ball integrity and not have sufficient surface for counter move plant-steps.
Maintain lane integrity and get to the ball, outside to inside first. Fergy and Driver on reverse from slot motion can happen too, especially if either lines up within 5 yards of the Tackle's shoulder outside from a 'set' slot look presnap.
The Packers have got game and can bring it to you, being aggressive can force them to execute these looks and justify the risk/reward ratio . Maintain position for their finesse O game so as the action comes to you plays on the ball can happen. A good balance of cover/attack is important... good luck!
Last edited by Mr.Murder; 12-18-2003 at 10:35 AM.
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