Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore (17) catches a pass for a touchdown as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Stanford Routt (26) defends in the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
ALAMEDA, CA - After a 1-4 start to the 2012 season, many Raiders fans were contemplating what the team might do with one of the top five picks in the 2013 draft. But following a mini winning streak, fans of the silver and black are contemplating how their team can get a win over Tampa Bay to remain in the hunt for a wildcard spot, or even a division title.
The Raiders currently sit at 3-4, one game behind the division-leading Broncos and a half game back of the Chargers.
The Raiders are coming off a win over the Chiefs and will face a dangerous Buccanneers team who easily handled the upstart Vikings, and narrowly missed out on victories over the Saints and Giants.
Tampa Bay were big players in the free agency market, as well as the draft, and those acquisitions are beginning to pay dividend. Vincent Jackson has been racking up monstrous yards at the receiver position, rookie linebacker Lavonte David is second on the team in tackles, and running back Doug Martin just grabbed offensive rookie of the month honors for October.
But the Raiders are also offering glimpses that they may be in the process of turning the corner. Carson Palmer and receiver Denarius Moore are developing a nice relationship, combining for 4 touchdowns on the season. Running back Darren McFadden is coming off his best rushing performance, and second 100-yard output of the year. And the defense is even chipping in to help the offense with timely turnovers.
The Buccanneers boast a balanced defense, claiming the league's 15th best run defense and 14th best defense against the pass. The Raiders will need to be equally balanced on offense to grab a home win on Sunday. Adrian Peterson showed the Bucs are susceptible to the big play if a team stays committed to the run. McFadden, who runs in a similar fashion to Peterson, will need to be patient, push for any and all extra yards, and make the most of any shots at gamebreaking runs.
Palmer's big task for the weekend will be to keep the ball away from Tampa's opportunistic defense. The Buccanneers have 10 interceptions on the season, and have returned two picks for scores. If Oakland is to avoid the same fate as Minnesota, Palmer will have to eliminate the mistakes that have plagued him since his arrival in the Bay Area.
A win on Sunday will not come easy, but when do they come easy for the Raiders recently? However, if Oakland can pick up their third straight win against a tough team, they'll bring some legitimacy to their streak, as well as to talk of them being a playoff, and even a division title contender in the AFC West.