Matt Flynn enters his first season as a starting NFL quarterback and how he reacts to finally taking the reins will play a huge role in the Oakland Raiders‘ ability to threaten the .500 mark or completely bottom out. Plummeting would encourage the Raiders even further to have their pick of franchise quarterbacks via draft so pressure’s on for Flynn.
For me, when evaluating Oakland’s Week 1 regular season trip to visit the Indianapolis Colts, the single biggest X-factor is Darren McFadden. He is the most sublime talent on the roster — though last year he didn’t show it — and Indy’s run defense still begs many questions. After all, they were basically bulldozed by Shonn Greene and the Jets.
Raiders Week 1 Spread: Raiders 7-point underdogs at Colts
Raiders Week 1 Preview and Preseason Effect:
Flynn completed 4-for-5 for 37 yards through the air in their preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys but fumbled on a sack from behind. The loss of Dwight Freeney means Indy will look to first-round rookie Bjoern Werner to fill some of the void in edge pressure.
McFadden registered Flynn’s first completion as a Raider and figures to benefit from Oakland’s switch back to a man-blocking scheme, in which Run-DMC looked among the league’s most dangerous running backs.
“Obviously, he never felt comfortable in what we were doing last year,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said, via NFL.com. “That led to some questions about him, but if you watch practice, the guy’s still explosive. He’s still a threat to take it all the way. And he feels more comfortable. If you don’t quite trust it, there’s always that doubt.”
Now’s the time for McFadden to show it has made a difference, as Indy ranked 28th against the run in 2012.