Oakland Raiders In Need Of Signature Win


The Oakland Raiders enter Sunday’s matchup with the Denver Broncos in need of a very elusive “signature win.” It’s still too early in the season to claim any game as being a must win, but if the Raiders have any hope of challenging the Broncos for the AFC West title, a win Sunday is essential.

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Last week’s disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears was a reminder that Oakland is a team still learning to win, and that their margin for error is minimal. Two costly turnovers, linked to the hands of Latavius Murray, proved too much to overcome for the Silver and Black. The Raiders are a team still searching for consistency on both sides of the ball.

At times this season, the Raiders have shown the ability on offense to make the “Big Play” and move the ball at will. Then there are times where there seems to be a lack of creativity and ability to consistently move the chains.

Oaklands’ young “Big Three” of Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Murray are trying to not only establish themselves individually in the NFL, but are trying to resurrect a franchise stuck in mediocrity for the past decade.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, the growing pains associated with depending on young talent hit them at the most inopportune time last week, and cost them their third victory of the season.

The Raiders will be facing an experienced and playoff tested Denver team that has won 13 consecutive divisional road games. The Peyton Manning led Broncos will enter O.Co Stadium undefeated at 4-0 and sitting on top of the AFC West Standings.

Of course, Manning’s arm is still Denver’s preferred weapon, but the Broncos found their running game last week versus the Minnesota Vikings. Ronnie Hillman ran through the Vikings defense for 103 yards and one touchdown, giving the Broncos a balanced attack and lessening the burden on Manning.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Raiders Head Coach, Jack Del Rio spoke of the difficulty of going up against future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning:

"“He’s like an offensive coordinator with a computer in his head, but he also gets to snap every play. It’s a heck of a challenge. He’s a great football player and it’ll be a big challenge for us.”"

A victory on Sunday would pull the Raiders within one game of the Broncos, and help solidify them as real contenders in the divisional race. A win would not only be big in the standings, but would give the young Raiders a boost of confidence that is vital to their resurgence.

In order to snap the Broncos 13 game divisional road winning streak, it is essential the Raiders limit their mistakes against the Broncos.

Manning has made a Hall of Fame career off of capitalizing on opponents’ miscues and he will make the Raiders pay for any defensive lapses in the secondary. The Broncos’ offense will be a significant test for  Ken Norton Jr. and his defense, which has turned relatively unknown tight-ends into fantasy stars.

The Raiders must play physically and intelligently on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line, which has been relatively stout against the run, must harass Manning with a relentless pass-rush.

A Raiders win would let the rest of the NFL know they are a team to be dealt with. It would help announce their arrival. Whereas, a poor performance against Denver would help validate the belief that they are not ready to be considered a real playoff contender.

Next: Oakland Raiders: Notes and Observations