Saints-Raiders Behind Enemy Lines III

This week's big clash between the Saints and the Raiders has everyone talking. Saintsinsider.com's Matthew Postins and SilverandBlackillustrated.com's Mike Wagaman are examining the game from every angle. Today, it's Behind Enemy Lines Part III, as Postins and Wagaman break down the key matchups.

Key Matchups

Saints QB Drew Brees vs. Raiders DB DeAngelo Hall: It doesn't matter who Brees throws the ball to, he's productive. In fact, he's been downright filthy from a production standpoint through five weeks – 1,673 yards, 9 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's making some mediocre receivers look really good in the absence of Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey. It's a good bet that Hall will draw the Saints' top receiver all night, depending on who the Raiders think that would be. Because of that, Hall will get precious few chances to make a game-changing play. If he doesn't pounce, Brees will make him pay.

Raiders RBs vs. Saints front seven: The Saints can't stop much, so it's pick your poison. Since interim head coach Tom Cable is also the offensive line coach, something tells me the game plan will call for a heavy dose of Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush. This tandem of backs could easily top 160 yards in rushing against a Saints defense that is now without DT Sedrick Ellis. Oddly, though, the Saints held the Vikings' Adrian Peterson to just 32 yards rushing. What to make of this? Hard to say. The Saints are still vulnerable in the middle, and if the Raiders pound away enough, the dam will break.

Oakland LT Kwame Harris vs New Orleans RE Will Smith: The Raiders want to be more balanced offensively which means QB JaMarcus Russell will throw the ball more. Harris has struggled and been slowed by injuries but head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable believes his veteran left tackle has turned the corner. Smith has two sacks this season and seems to be playing solidly so far. If he can handle Harris, it would force the Raiders to deploy additional blocking help his way which should create a mismatch for the Saints elsewhere.

Why the Raiders will win (Wagaman): Oakland could easily be 3-1 at this point, having blown a pair of fourth-quarter leads to Buffalo and New Orleans, so it's not like they've been terrible. Neither have the Saints but with the Raiders having undergone a coaching change, they could have extra motivation. New Orleans is also coming off a short week and still has the remnants of the Monday night loss to Minnesota fresh in their memory. And although New Orleans did a good job stopping the run against the Vikings, the Raiders 1-2-3 combo of a now healthy Justin Fargas, rookie Darren McFadden and Michael Bush might be tougher to contain.

Why the Saints will win (Postins): Two words: Drew Brees. Against a Vikings defense that hadn't been defending the run that well of late, they gained less than 50 yards. This is now a one-dimensional team and so far no team has solved how to stop Brees. Raiders DC Rex Ryan probably has a few tricks up his sleeve, but knows it will take a mixture of coverages to slow Brees down. And with Marques Colston possibly back, that gives the Saints too many weapons for the Raiders to contain. The Saints will have to throw themselves to victory, and they're one of the few NFL teams that can do it.

Predictions

Matthew Postins: I thought this would be close at first. But after some thought, I think it's going to be blowout city. Saints 35-10.

Mike Wagaman: Raiders, 24-20.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of bucsblitz.com

Mike Wagaman covers the Raiders for silverandblackillustrated.com.


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