The Oakland Raiders have (finally) won their first game of the 2012 NFL season. After losing back to back games in which the Raiders were favored to win, Dennis Allen got his first win as a head coach only a day after he turned 40 years old. This time, the Raiders were underdogs as they hosted their old school rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, after pulling off a big upset at home, the Raiders will travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and his new team, the Denver Mannings.
After the Raiders were blown out by the Miami Dolphins in week 2, it was all but certain that the Raiders would not be able to play with the Denver Broncos in week four. Then, the Broncos, who looked very good in week one, lost back to back games and Peyton Manning did not look good in those losses. In fact, he struggled so often, there is talk going on that he simply is not the same Manning and cannot put the same spin on the ball that he could before he was injured.
Meanwhile, the Raiders offense that looked abysmal in the first two weeks of the year came alive against the once vaunted Steelers defense. McFadden more than doubled his yards on the year with his first carry of the game, a 64 yard touchdown run. Even though he did not have a bad first two weeks of the season Palmer and the passing game, also looked improved as Palmer threw for three touchdowns in the win.
The defense, however, continued to struggle, giving up over 430 yards to Pittsburgh's offense. But while they did not look great, they did excel in one aspect on Sunday, stripping the ball. One of the biggest differences that one will notice when it comes to the new Raiders defense is how aggressively players attack the ball on tackles. Everyone knows that winning the turnover battle is crucial to winning the game, and the Raider showed that on Sunday. The Raiders caused two turnovers and a number of fumbles that were recovered by a Pittsburgh player. While two turnovers is not huge, both came a crucial times in the game, and both resulted in points. If the Raiders want to win in Mile High Stadium, they will need to take advantage of Manning's new found tendency to throw floaters to his receivers.
The game against the Broncos is no longer looked at as one sided and the Raiders now look to have a decent chance of pulling off their first AFC West win when they travel to Denver this week. If they can, this season will take another drastic turn and start to look almost promising once again.