NFL Oakland Raiders

How the Oakland Raiders can upset the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6

Oakland Raider's Huddle

Mark J. Rebilas -US Presswire

If NFL fans have learned anything from football, it is that any team can be beat.

The Oakland Raiders face the difficult task of trying to knock off the 5-0 Atlanta Falcons. The Raiders are 1-3 coming off a bye week, and have to travel to the Georgia Dome to take on one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, Matt Ryan.

The Raiders have yet to win on the road. This will be their first non-conference game this season, having to face all four teams in the NFC South.

The Raiders are one of the worst teams in the NFL in points allowed. They give up about 31 points per game to the opposition, that means the Raider offense would have to score at least five touchdowns a game to even have a chance to win. The other side of the ball is not doing any better, the Raiders rushing game is the worst in the NFL right now.

Fans are already picking the Falcons to continue on with their undefeated season. The Falcons have their bye week next week, but do not overlook Sunday’s game against the Raiders. The Raiders could come in with a game plan that could shock the Falcons, the same way they shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.

Darren McFadden is off to a rough start in the 2012 season. The Raiders need to be a “ground-and -pound” team against the Falcons. Don’t be hesitant to throw on first down, but let McFadden work up the middle to fight for first downs. The Falcons will be too good on the outside rush, and one reason for McFadden’s struggles is that he is getting caught up running sideways. Losing yards or no yards on a down is a wasted possession, McFadden, and all the running backs, need to fight for those three or four yards, and not worry about trying to make big plays.

The defensive line for the Raiders is surprisingly under-performing. They are a very talented line, and should not be allowing as many points as they are, as well as rushing yards, allowing an average of about four yards per carry, and are also allowing a total average of 128 rushing yards per game. Falcon’s running back Michael Turnerneeds to be irrelevant Sunday if the Raiders want a shot at winning. Turner has 324 yards rushing on the season. The defensive line needs to force Ryan to beat them in the passing game, because the best part of the Raider’s defense is the defensive line led by Richard Seymour.

Realistically speaking, the Raiders are obviously not going to shut the Falcon’s offense down, but the best that they can do is not give up too many touchdowns. The Raiders need to keep the game close and force longer drives, and make life difficult for Ryan’s offense. The way to beat Ryan, is to frustrate him, make the Falcons punt and go for field goals. They can’t give up big pass plays or allow Turner to make 20-yard carries. The defense needs to give up those four yard gains to prevent the big plays, so play safe and conservative defense.

One team’s weakness is another team’s strength.

The Raiders need to finish the game with the most time of possession. Give the Falcons less time to score leaves space for error on defense. This goes back to the idea of running the ball and staying grounded, because they can grind the clock down, keeping the ball out of Ryan’s hands. The Falcons expect to pass all over the weak Raiders secondary, this gives the Raiders the upper hand to try and play a deeper zone in the secondary and containing the run and short passes with the front seven. The Raiders need to be on the field, and scoring in any way they can in the majority of their possessions.

The one surprising talent that the Raiders defense should be confident about is their ability to force fumbles. They do not have one interception this year, but they have managed to force four fumbles (three recovered) in a matter of four games. One turnover is all it takes to change the momentum of a game, if the Raiders rattle the Falcons early on with a strip fumble, things could start falling into place for them. They need to go for the strip on every tackle, on every play, the entire game. The Raiders have to prove to the NFL the they are a legitimate threat on defense.