The Oakland Raiders head to Tennessee to take on the Titans for the first game of the 2010 season.
Jason Campbell will lead a revamped offense under the coordination of Hue Jackson and the new front seven will attempt to contain 2000-yard rusher Chris Johnson.
Jason Campbell draws a favorable match up for his first start in silver and black. The Titans ranked next to last in the league in passing yards allowed in 2009. Virtually nothing has changed in the Titans’ defensive backfield, the only major change was the addition rookie Derrick Morgan is a pass rush extraordinaire. Look for the Raiders to attack through the air early and often on Sunday.
Sophomores Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy start at receiver. For all the talk this preseason about Heyward-Bey’s improvement, all will be for nothing if he can’t show it during the regular season. His first crack comes Sunday against a sub-par secondary. Murphy starts for habitually injured starter Chaz Schilens and must continue to make the big play while avoiding the drops that have plagued him this preseason.
Darren McFadden faces the 10th ranked run defense from 2009, but without Kyle Vanden Bosch and Keith Bullock. Both veteran players departed and leave a gapping leadership hole for Jeff Fisher. The Raiders will not abandon the run, but with Michael Bush questionable with a broken thumb, they could revise the game plan to include a few more passes to the Raiders young group of receivers.
The offensive line has been under the microscope and will have to prove it can protect Jason Campbell and move the pile in the run game. Rookie Jared Veldheer draws the starts at center and will be relied upon to make the correct line calls. He should be aided by veteran guards Robert Gallery and Cooper Carlisle.
Titans running back Chris Johnson is a nightmare for opposing run defenses. The Raiders happen to own one of the worst run defenses in the league in 2009. It will be up to the new starters at linebacker to corral Johnson when he leaks through the defensive line.
The defensive line will be facing one of the more veteran and dominant offensive lines in the league against both the run and pass. Richard Seymour and the lighter version of Tommy Kelly will plug the middle with Trevor Scott and Lamarr Houston tasked with outside contain. This group must also be able to apply pressure on Vince Young and force him to make mistakes.
The Raiders secondary should be able to limit a suspect group of Titans receivers. Unless the Titans get the ground game rolling early and use play action, the Raiders should be able to limit Vince Young through the air.
Both teams enter the season with a good kicker and punter and suspect coverage and return games.
Yamon Figurs won the return jobs at kick and punt return. Ball security is the primary concern, but Figurs has the ability to take any return to the house for a score.
In kick coverage, the Raiders must limit big returns and win the field position battle. The Raiders had multiple big returns during the preseason, but most of the players from those coverage units are now filing for unemployment.
What was originally expected to be a hot and humid game is shaping up to be quite nice. The humidity is expected to be around 50% and with a temperature around 80 degrees. Not all that different than the forecast in Oakland on Sunday. Consider this a non-factor.