The Oakland Raiders offense is riddled with injuries. However, more important than the number of injuries, is the who. The Raiders will be without all of their big play options this week. Running backs Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones as well as wide receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore are all expected to sit out the game against Green Bay this weekend.
While one of their fastest players is still healthy, Darrius Heyward-Bey has yet to prove he has the ability to be a down field threat. Rather, he has been developing into a solid possession receiver. That means the Raiders will be playing the Packers without one of the major reasons for their Renaissance this year, the quick score.
As a result, the Raiders will need to play a certain style of football in order to keep up with the Packers. Before the injuries, the Raiders would have been able to compete in a shoot out due to the massive number quick score weapons they possess. However, without these weapons, the Raiders only have one chance for success in Green Bay.
Michael Bush must run the ball. He must run a lot. And he must run well.
In a game like this where the Raiders will not be able to compete in a shoot out, they must be able to win the time of possession battle. The best way to keep Aaron Rodgers and the mighty Packers' offense in check is to keep them off of the field.
Unlike McFadden, Bush is a big, tough back who is not known for game breaking plays. While he does occasionally break off big runs, they are far from being the norm. That means, if Bush can run well and pick up 4-5 yards per carry, the Raiders will be able to put together long drives and keep Rodgers on the bench.
If the Raiders pull off a win this weekend, it will be because they prevented Aaron Rodgers from winning the game single handedly. Keeping Rodgers on the bench means keeping the score low and enabling the Raiders strongest unit right now, special teams, to have a bigger impact on the game.
The Packers do not have the type of shut down run defense the Raiders have faced the past two weeks and they can be run on. The key will be for the Raiders coaching staff not to get impatient if they cannot run early in the game. Even if Aaron Rodgers is able to score quickly early in the game, the Raiders cannot abandon their run first strategy or they could be in for a day that is so long it will make the Dolphins game look like a quick stroll through the park.