The first weekend of NFL football ends tonight (Monday, Sept. 8th) with a BANG - McFadden in black. The Raiders host the Broncos at 10:15E on ESPN.
Here’s what I expect to see from these two extremely similar teams:
These are two wear-them-down run-oriented offenses; and with both teams possessing excellent pass-defenses (check out those four cornerbacks), mediocre receivers, and new offensive lines that lack the necessary cohesiveness for pass blocking, I expect run, after run, after run.
Both teams will start with the same game plan:
1) run the ball with some success
2) protect the ball (win the turnover battle)
3) good special teams play - good punts, good returns, make FGs
4) get ahead and force the other team into passing situations
5) run the clock out against fatigued defenders
The difference between the two teams will probably be that the home-town Raiders have the better running backs. The Raiders rushing attack starts with Justin Fargas, not McFadden. Fargas gets the veteran nod after a strong season last year in the same offensive scheme. Kiffin, who has been extremely impressed with Darren and plans on utilizing all of his gifts before the season is over, says that tonight will not be The McFadden Show. He says he’s worried that the pressure might be too much, since it is his first NFL game and it’s Monday Night Football. (This would be The McFadden Show if I were the coach, since Darren usually plays his best in high pressure games. I’m wondering if Kiffin is bluffing). The Raiders have another stud RB right behind McFadden - the young, big, fast, shifty, and soft-handed Michael Bush. The biggest potential downfall of this crew is a lack of depth at the fullback position, since they lost their best blocking fullback to a career-threatening injury last week.
If the Raiders have a large lead, I highly doubt that the Broncos can pass their way back into the game, or break off long runs. If the Broncos have a large lead, the Raiders will look to big TE Zach Miller down field, or hopefully they will give McFadden chances to break some long ones.
(Did you catch Felix’s first game yesterday? He took his first carry into the endzone from 11 yards out and finished the game with nine carries for 62 yards and 1 TD.)