Seriously, we can't call it sunny California, because weather.com says it's going to be raining until mid-morning, and then cloudy the rest of the day. Don't believe me? Check for yourself.
Hopefully it will dry out in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum by kickoff, but no matter how wet or cold it is at the game itself, it is always hot here early in the morning - hot from HansDat's Hot Reads, that is.
Let's do this.
Saints vs Raiders coverage
** This will also be our official pre-pre-pre-pre-game Open Thread to discuss our plans for the day. What gear are you wearing? What grub are you making/eating? Any special brew/potent potable on the menu? Will you watch any of the early games, or begin prepping your turkey for Thursday? **
The Raiders will be missing leading sacker DT Richard Seymour, and starting safety Tyvon Branch, who is second on the team in tackles (52) and also has a pick and 3 pass breakups, is questionable with a neck injury. The defense is also allowing a 66% completion rate, a nearly 3-1 TD-INT ratio, and a 98.6 rating to opposing quarterbacks. This should make it, um, a breeze to PROTECT BREES and allow him to have his way with the Raiders defense in this game.
What I'd Like To See: The Raiders defense play to its average potential while the Saints protection schemes enable Brees to exceed his average potential. That will mean 70% completion rate, no interceptions, 350+ passing yards, and at least 3 TDs for Brees through the air. Also, 0 sacks.
Checkdown # 1
DON'T LET 'NOBODY' RUN YOU OVER - The Raiders may be severely regretting the decision to let RB Michael Bush walk in free agency last March. Their top two rushers (Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson) are OUT for Sunday, and the defacto # 1 back (Marcel Reese) is gimpy with a hamstring injury. The two guys behind him on the depth chart have a total of 20 carries between them in 2012, and one of them is QB Carson Palmer. With literally "nobody" available to run the ball for them, the Saints absolutely cannot allow these "nobodies" to have success running the ball against them.
What I'd Like To See: Under 75 rushing yards by the Raiders. This might be due to a "stifling" Saints defense (please give me a minute or two to get all the chortles of laughter out of my system before I can type again), or a Raiders running game that trips over its own two feet. I don't care which.
Checkdown # 2
Carson Palmer is putting up a quarterback rating of 86.8 this year. The Saints are allowing opposing quarterbacks a very generous 104.4 rating so far. The Saints are 2-4 when allowing a passer rating greater than 100, and 2-1 when holding opposing QBs to a rating of less than 100. I'm thinking they need to KEEP THE RAIDERS' CAR(SON) IN PARK.
What I'd Like To See: Palmer finish with a passer rating of less than 100.
The Raiders are only one game worse than the Saints in won-loss record, but it seems to me that they are a team with a wobbly first-year coach heading up a squad with numerous injuries, and that it's a season on the verge of complete and total meltdown. This is a desperate team in desperate times, and they're going to have no reason not to try desperate things. In other words, I'm scared s***less of them. They smell like Cleveland in 2010 to me, and I don't like that stink at all. FOR THE LOVE OF VITT, BE READY FOR ANYTHING!
What I'd Like To See: A Saints team that is alert, focused, and able to contain any fakes, trick plays, or other such misdirectional trickeration. I'm not saying they need to blow them all up, but just don't allow them to actually score a touchdown or lead to one.
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So there you have it - another sizzling set of Hot Reads for your Sunday morning pregame meal. I hope you enjoyed them. If you want some more, or you want something else, cook 'em your damn self, and then write about them in the comment section. I'm ok with it if this turns into an oversized buffet.
And come on in to the Early Games Open Thread at 12:30 Eastern time. It'll be BIG FUN!!