The final home game before a long road trip is a tough one for the Oakland Raiders in week seven. How will they handle the visiting Cardinals?
Subplot: First taste of the NFC West
The general feeling around the NFL is that more than likely the Super Bowl is going to go through the NFC West with teams like Seattle and San Francisco occupying it. This visit from the Arizona Cardinals, who went 10-6 last year will be the first taste of that division for the Oakland Raiders. It will make a good measuring stick for their progress.
Feature David Ausberry and tight ends in passing game
Arizona had one of the better defenses in the league last season, featuring talents like cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive end Calais Campbell and outside linebacker John Abraham. However, a big source of their success was the inside linebackers of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. Their versatile abilities allowed the Cardinals to be flexible in their scheming. Now Dansby is in Cleveland and Washington is suspended. This opens the door for the Raiders to attack the middle of the field, which will make a great opportunity to see if David Ausberry is their answer at tight end.
Either drop Carson Palmer or jam his receivers
Perhaps the biggest danger the Arizona Cardinals pose to the Oakland Raiders is their passing attack. With a receiver combination like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, and the emergence of specialty back Andre Ellington the capacity to score quickly through the air is very real. It will be up to the Raiders cornerbacks like Tarell Brown and D.J. Hayden to play physical at the line of scrimmage to keep them in check. Either that, or their pass rush will need to have a good day, welcoming back former teammates like Palmer and tackle Jared Veldheer.