Top 5 storylines heading into Raiders-Saints season opener
Week 1 storylines to watch for Raiders-Saints
At long last, the Raiders open their season on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. This is a big moment, one where they can validate or stifle the offseason hype being thrown their way after importing big-name free agents and high-quality draft picks. This isn’t a do-or-die situation, but it’s a time where these upstarts can prove themselves in a tough environment. Lets analyze the top storylines heading into Sunday’s game…
5. Can Raiders stop Ingram?
The Raiders run defense has been poor, unfit for the best backs they’ve faced. Mark Ingram is up next, a power player who runs low and hits hard in space and between the tackles. If he has a big game, the Raiders are in big trouble. Significant shade has been thrown Ben Heeney’s way, and this is a chance for the Raiders interior linebackers to prove their mettle and shut down a tough running back.
4. Quieting the Superdome
That’s no easy task, considering the Saints create a significant home-field advantage in their indoor facility. It gets loud in there and, despite quarterback Derek Carr’s insistence that noise is his friend, it can be an issue for most teams. The Raiders’ biggest asset is continuity and chemistry on offense, which helps them communicate without words. As Jack Del Rio says, the opposing crowds is only as loud as you let them be.
3. Dennis Allen factor
Allen was fired as Raiders head coach in 2014, after two disappointing seasons and an 0-4 start to his last year. He’s the Saints defensive coordinator now, leading a moribund group that struggles against the pass. That’s an issue the former Texas A&M safety wants to correct, and he’ll bring exotic, unscouted blitzes against a quarterback in Derek Carr who used to be his protégé. How the young signal caller handles that pre-snap will be key to this outcome.
2. Brees’ quick trigger
Drew Bress is the oldest quarterback to start the opening game in 2016, but he’s still as dangerous as ever. The future Hall-of-Fame quarterback puts up gawdy stats, and can apply significant pressure in a shootout because he scores easily and scores often. Interior pressure provides the best chance to rattle him and slow him down, meaning Raiders like Jihad Ward and Dan Williams and Denico Autry must win battles and make Brees uncomfortable inside.
1. Chemistry is key
There are several shiny new pieces to this Raiders defense we’ve heard about for some time, like Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin and Reggie Nelson. Those guys must perform and show chemistry with this defense to improve a unit that struggled mightily at crucial times last year. There’s talent at most every spot now. If they’re productive, the Raiders will be tough to beat.