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Moving on: Oakland Raiders

9/18/2011

Here are some areas the Oakland Raiders need to focus on after a 38-35 loss at Oakland:

Recap: Remember a few years ago when the Oakland Raiders were one of the most boring offensive teams in the NFL? Those days appear to be over. That’s the good news. But the Raiders continue to be a team that gives up way too many plays on defense, a team that commits too many penalties and a team that struggles to win outside of the division. In the end, Sunday’s loss at Buffalo was maddening as the Raiders blew an 18-point halftime lead.

Biggest area to fix: The Raiders have to get better on defense. There’s no way around it. The problem was masked at Denver because the Broncos made a lot of mistakes. But Kyle Orton did throw for 304 yards. At Buffalo, the Oakland defense fell apart as it allowed five touchdowns in the final half, including the game winner in the final seconds. Oakland gave up 217 yards rushing. I don’t care how explosive the offense looks in Oakland; it won’t win a lot of games playing this type of defense.

Biggest area to build on: If the Raiders can throw the ball like they did at Buffalo, their offense is going to be difficult to contain. We know Oakland is going to be able to win the ball. But if Jason Campbell can throw for more than 300 yards routinely like he did Sunday, the Raiders will be dangerous. I loved seeing rookie Denarius Moore make a splash Sunday. He was given a chance in a game that counts and he came through with five catches for 146 yards and he had a 25-yard run on a reverse. The Raiders need to commit to him and watch him develop.

What to watch for: The Raiders are 1-1 after playing two games on the road. That’s solid. However, the schedule will get tougher at home. The Raiders have back-to-back home games against playoff contenders, the Jets and the Patriots. We should learn a lot about the Raiders in these two games. I want to see Oakland show it can hang with the non-AFC West competition in the conference.