The Oakland Raiders are going primetime, and heading into the Silver and Black's Week 9 matchup against the Denver Broncos, you had questions.
Now as Head Coach Jack Del Rio and his team put the final touches on their game plan for Trevor Siemian and Co., we have answers.
Here is this week's Raiders.com Mailbag, presented by BART.
From Dawn L: Seems we make more yardage making unconventional play calling. Blitzes, draws, QB sneak and going for it on 2nd down instead of waiting. Can we look forward to more of that?
EP:As far as what offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave specifically has under his sleeve for Sunday night's matchup against the Broncos, we'll just have to wait and see. That being said, I think over the first half of the season, Derek Carr has shown that he's at his best when he's playing aggressive, and putting pressure on the opposing defense. He's said on multiple occasions that he wears the No. 4 in homage to Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, and like Favre, the Raiders signal-caller excels when he's pushing the action downfield and letting it rip, giving his wide receivers chances to make plays. Carr is playing arguably the best football of his young career, so while we don't know for sure what the play calling will look like Sunday night, I expect the plays to put Carr in the best position to succeed.
From Moo P: Will Coop and Crabtree both come to show T.J. Ward they are elite WRs?
EP:At this point I'm sure we've all seen the comments that Broncos safety T.J. Ward made earlier this week about, shall we say, his "feelings" towards the Silver and Black. However, once the game gets underway Sunday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, I don't think the players on the field will be focused on Ward's remarks, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree included. Through the first half of the season, both Cooper and Crabtree have shown that they're in the upper-echelon of wide receivers in the NFL, and I don't anticipate the bright lights of Sunday Night Football fazing either of them in the least. Let's not forget, Crabtree has played in a Super Bowl, and Cooper has suited up in a national championship game for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Big players show up in the biggest moments, and that's what I expect to see from 'Coop' and 'Crab.'
From Justin T: After two big misses last week, are you worried at all about Sebastian Janikowski when it matters?
EP: **Justin, to put it simply, not really. Yes, Seabass had two misses last week, from 50 and 52 yards respectively, but neither of those field goal attempts were easy kicks by any means. Sunday's misses against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aside, Janikowski has been solid in his 2016, and I have complete confidence that he'll move on from the misses, and get his mind right for the matchup with the Broncos. Over the course of his 17-year career, No. 11 has shown time and time again the ability to make big kicks in big moments, and even at age 39, he's still a valuable weapon for the Silver and Black. Did Janikowksi have a great day at work last weekend? Not particularly, but there's no reason to think there will be any carry over this weekend back at the OACC.
From Kayvon V: Who do you think is better, Von Miller or Khalil Mack?
EP:Comparing Miller and Mack is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Miller is a 3-4 outside linebacker, and Mack is a 4-3 defensive end, and while each of them move around the defensive front quite regularly, their job responsibilities do differ. While they might be asked to do different things schematically for their respective defenses, one thing they do share is their elite ability to get after the quarterback. Miller has eight-and-a-half sacks this season, and after a productive couple of weeks, Mack now has five, and the pair are unquestionably two of the best rushers not just in the AFC West, but in the NFL in general. Kayvon, if it seems like I'm dancing around answering your question, it's because I am. Both Miller and Mack are elite talents, and I think that each of them are incredibly good at what they do.
From Rasputin R: Is this the biggest game that the Silver and Black have played in in a decade? Will they do anything special to prepare for the environment?
EP:If it's not the biggest game the Raiders have played in a decade, it's pretty close to it. While it's just Week 9, the winner of Sunday night's game between the Raiders and Broncos takes sole possession of first place in the ultra-competitive AFC West, and earns an ever-important division win as well. As far as if the team is doing anything special to prepare for their primetime debut, it's been business as usual all week at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility. While Head Coach Del Rio and the players have all acknowledged that Sunday night's game is a big one, they've also been steadfast in their remarks saying that it's also just the next game on the schedule. The OACC will be rocking Sunday night, and I, for one can't wait until kickoff.
From Caitlin W: Which jersey is most popular in the stands now? Lots of stars on this team.
EP:Caitlin, great question. In an informal survey done by yours truly, the most-popular jersey in the stands belongs to Derek Carr, followed closely by Khalil Mack, and then Amari Cooper. You're right, for the first time in over a decade, the Silver and Black's roster is full of young, talented stars, and the jerseys in the stand reflect just that. Another thing that's been really cool to see this season in particular, is the influx of Ken Stabler jerseys both at home and on the road. The old saying certainly runs true, Once a Raider, Always a Raider, and Raider Nation has made their feelings about "The Snake" plain to see.
From Brandon J: What is your one biggest key for the Raiders to beat the Broncos on Sunday Night Football?
EP:My biggest key is actually two keys; be balanced offensively, and protect the football. Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has his group playing at a high level once again, and the numbers certainly back at that up, as Denver's defense is ranked No. 3 in the league allowing just 301.3 yards per game. So how do you attack a defense that's as stacked as the Broncos is? Keep them off balance, using a healthy mix of running and passing to keep the defense honest. My other key is to protect the football. Going against the Denver defense provides enough challenges as it is, and Derek Carr and Co., will be well-served if they can hold onto the ball, and not give Trevor Siemian any extra opportunities with a short field.