The New Orleans Saints travel to Oakland this week to take on the Oakland Raiders. The Saints (4-5) are coming off of an impressive upset over the Atlanta Falcons and are hoping to carry that momentum over against the Raiders. The Raiders (3-6) are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which they gave up a season high 55 points. This matchup features two teams that are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Saints are clearly rising and the Raiders are clearly falling.
This game could either be a high scoring affair or it could be a blow out. Either way, one should expect one of the teams to put up a lot of points as neither team plays very good defense. The Saints should look to run the ball against the Raiders as they rank 21st in the NFL giving up 119 rushing yards per game. In addition to the Raiders mediocre pass defense they also do not fare well against the pass, a specialty of Drew Brees. The Raiders are ranked 24th in the NFL in pass defense as they give up 255.9 passing yards per game.
The Saints are not any better than the Raiders on defense and in fact they are worse. The Saints are ranked 31st in the NFL in pass defense as they allow 307.3 yards per game. Furthermore, the Saints are also ranked 31st in rush defense allowing 162 yards per game on the ground. The Raiders should look to take advantage of the Saints’ poor defense and Carson Palmer will need to have a big game to accomplish that. It looks like the Raiders will be without running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson so I would expect the Raiders to go to the air early and often.
Saints X Factor: The Saints x factor this week will be the running game. The Saints have shown over the past two games that they are able to establish an effective ground game and as a result they have been winning. The Saints need to look for their running game again this week against the Raiders and continue to be part of a balanced offensive attack. With Darren Sproles likely returning this week the Saints running game will be bolstered and they will not be short of players who can run for some good yardage. I would like to see the Saints continue to use Chris Ivory because he has been the most effective running back these past two weeks and I think he can get it done for a third week in a row. The Saints need to establish the run and prove that the past two weeks was not a fluke for their running backs.
Raiders X Factor: The Raiders x factor this week will be Palmer. The veteran quarterback has shown in the past that he still has what it takes to win and he will need to have a huge game if the Raiders want to pull this one out. Palmer needs to take advantage of the Saints’ weak secondary and throw for some major yardage. Furthermore, Palmer needs to connect with wide receiver Denarius Moore as he leads the team with five receiving touchdowns. If it comes down to a shootout Palmer needs to win the matchup with Brees otherwise the Raiders will be looking at 3-7 record.
How the Saints can win this game: The Saints will win this game if they keep doing what they have been doing for the past two weeks. The Saints have established a ground game and that has really helped them win some games. The Saints now have a balanced offensive attack and opposing teams now have to pick their poison when it comes to the Saints. Now that the ground game is such a threat it opens things up a lot more for Brees and the receivers to operate. Also, the Saints’ defense seems to be improving and that will also be a big factor to the Saints’ success in this game.
How the Raiders can win this game: The Raiders will win this game if their defense can somehow disrupt Brees and the running game. The Raiders’ defense needs to step it up and get the ball in Palmer’s hands. If the Raiders’ defense can help Palmer the rest is up to him. Palmer needs to have a big game and out-sling Brees. If the Raiders’ defense can stop the Saints and Palmer can have a big day then the Raiders will win this game.
Final Prediction: The Saints are looking to be at .500 when this game is all said and done. The Raiders seem to be only playing for pride at this point in the season because a playoff bid looks slim. With that said, I think the Saints should be able to win this game without too much trouble despite being on the road. I predict the Saints beat the Raiders with a final score of 35-25.