Saints Defense vs. Raiders Running Backs
The bad news is that the Raiders have three good running backs in Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. The good news is that Fargas and McFadden are both coming back from injuries and the Saints defense is coming off of a spectacular performance against much feared Adrian Peterson. We know this unit is up to the challenge and can be succesful. The performance of Jonathan Vilma and our defensive tackles will play a crucial role in stopping the run. Forcing JaMarcus Russell to go to the air a lot and win the game with his arm will increase the Saints chances of walking away with a victory.
Saints Special Teams vs. Raiders Special Teams
To punt or not to punt. The Raiders actually do a good job on special teams coverage and exhibited that skill against Devin Hester last year. Chances are they aren't as afraid of Reggie as other teams might be. Look for them to punt to Reggie. If they do, Bush will have very little room to work with. Some big blocks like the ones he got from Stecker and Dunbar will be necessary.
Saints Secondary vs. Raiders Passing Game
If the defense can actually force the Raiders to rely on the pass then it will be incumbent on the secondary to do their job in the backfield. Obviously some pressure from the line will help immensely but the corners cannot allow Russell to beat them deep with that cannon arm of his.
What The Saints Need To Do
Establish the Run
The Raiders do not have the same great run stuffing defense that the Vikings do so there is no reason why the Saints shouldn't at least attempt to pound the ball up the middle with D. Mac. Making the Raiders respect the run game will open everything up for the rest of the offense.
Stop Turning it Over
The Saints have now gone 22 straight games with at least one turnover. Ridiculous. That must come to an end. Turnovers are the easiest way to lose a game.
I hate having to even mention this. The Saints have given up 225 yards in penalties the last two games. That's more than the Lions can gain in one game! This is a mental and discipline issue. Clean it up!
60 Minutes of Football
The Saints have had trouble closing games. Whether it's missing field goals, coming up short on third down or giving up big passing plays late in the game, the Saints need to play a complete game for the entire length of the game. If this game is closer than we all hope in the fourth quarter, the ability to finish will be important.
Players to Watch
The kids first real game. He's gonna be nervous as hell so let's all pray that he doesn't get put into a must make situation. Weatherford has been taking the kickoffs as of late so look for Mehlhaff to take over duties there as well.
Jeremy Shockey/Marques Colston
Will they be back? It's questionable.
Don't let him leave your sights.