The Oakland Raiders will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener Sunday. Both teams enter the match-up with 0-1 records, but the Raiders were far more competitive in their opening week loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Now one team will look to pick-up the all-important victory and avoid a 0-2 start.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has given the Raiders offense a tremendous spark. His dual threat abilities have opened up the playbook to a variety of different looks. His running ability also hides some of the offensive line deficiencies as well as prolongs many plays into positive gains. Pryor was able to rush for 112 yards last week while throwing for another 217. He did throw two very poor interceptions including the last which ended the Raiders comeback hopes. He must improve that decision making and take care of the football with smart decisions.
The Jaguars defense struggled to stop the run in the first week of the season, conceding 121 yards to the Kansas City Chiefs. Because of this, the Raiders will rely on running back Darren McFadden to carry his share of the offensive load with a surplus of touches. Between him and Pryor, the Raiders have a formidable rushing attack. If they can get that attack going, it will open up some passing lanes for Pryor to find wide receivers Rod Streater and Denarius Moore.
The Raiders defense will focus on stopping Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is a bay area product. Jones-Drew struggled in the opener, rushing 15 times for only 45 yards. The Raiders will stack the box to prevent Jones-Drew from finding running lanes and gaining confidence.
With the Raiders focus on Jones-Drew, quarterback Chad Henne will have opportunities. Henne replaces the injured Blaine Gabbert, who was brutal in the season opener throwing 35 times, completing just 16 for 121 yards and two interceptions. The Jaguars appear to be better off with Henne under center. However, he is also turnover prone. In six starts and 10 appearances last season Henne tossed 11 interceptions and lost two fumbles. The Raiders defense must capitalize on their chances to force Henne into mistakes. Henne won't get the best protection which helps the Raiders quest for turnovers. Last week, the Jaguars offensive line allowed six sacks and the team only managed 71 rushing yards.
The Oakland defensive line will be the key. They were able to generate consistent pressure on Andrew Luck last week. If they can duplicate that performance against Henne, the secondary will have opportunities for game changing plays.
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