Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/15/13
The New Orleans Saints host the Oakland Raiders in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday Night.  I understand it is only preseason.  However, there are always things to watch for, even in an exhibition game.  Here are 5 key elements we should look at and focus on when the Black and Gold and Black and Silver clash heads Friday evening. 5. Saints Offensive Play Calling and Receiving CoreCoach Sean Payton has already stated in an interview earlier this week that he is upset and disappointed with his play calling against the Kansas City Chiefs last week.  He has been absent for a year in NFL, so he may be a little rusty.  Have no fear Saints fans.  Payton is one of the best at what he he does, so look for that brilliant, high-powered offense to really step it up Friday night.  I believe everybody should really focus on the new faces that have recently joined that deep receiving core in New Orleans.  Keep an eye on Nick Toon, Kenny Stills and Steve Breaston.  All three recievers are capable of producing big numbers, so observe close.  They could see quite a hefty workload when facing Oakland. 4. Raiders SecondaryOakland lost a couple of key players during the offseason and after losing Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles a couple of years ago, the Raiders secondary has really struggled.  Well, good news for Bay Area fans, that may all be over.  Charles Woodson returns to his old team after his seven year stint in Green Bay.  He may not be as young and may not be as quick, but the future hall-of-famer adds tons of experience and leadership skills to this Oakland secondary.  Remember, they still have a great safety in Tyvon Branch as well.  Cornerback Tracy Porter will be visting his old Super Bowl team in New Orleans Friday night.  Porter, also adds experience to the Raiders defense, especially when it comes to the playoffs.  They also made an excellent draft pick snatching up cornerback, DJ Hayden this past April.  Woodson and Porter will be great mentors for the young stud out of the University of Houston.  Let's see what this secondary is capable of accomplishing.  The New Orleans Saints explosive offense will be great practice for Oakland's defense.3. Raiders Offensive StrugglesRaiders fans have had it pretty rough for a good while now.  Oakland just can't ever seem to get things clicking on offense.  They have an outstanding running back in Darren McFadden, but injuries have been a major issue with him since he has joined the National Football League.  The organization has also had some pretty horrid draft picks over the years.  Let's not go there though.  Additionally, quarterbacks have struggled, running backs have struggled and they have been lacking that superstar receiver.  However, the Raider Nation has just recently added a new quarterback who has showed signs of success in the past.2. Matt FlynnThis former LSU standout quarterback has showed true signs of success, yet he is still unproven.  Anyway, remember that Packers and Lions game a couple of years back when Flynn led Green Bay to a 45-41 victory over Detroit?  You should.  Aaron Rogers was injured and when needed, Flynn stepped it up, and stepped it up in an elite-like fashion.  The man set franchise records that night passing for 480 yards and six touchdowns.  That game led to the Seattle Seahawks signing one of the most wanted free agents that offseason to a nice three year deal worth $26 million.  However, by the start of the regular season, rookie Russell Wilson had won that starting spot.  Flynn has got the potential to be a good quarterback in the NFL.  As a big LSU fan, I would love to see him have a successful career in Oakland.  He deserves it.  Keep an eye on him tomorrow night.  With Terrelle Pryor in the mix, look for Matt Flynn to really try and impress his coaches when he faces the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. 1.  New Faces in the Saints Secondary In an interview earlier this week, Coach Sean Payton said rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro would get plenty of playing time against Oakland, giving him the opportunity to show the coaches that he will be ready to start come Week 1.  Look for former Steelers cornerback, Keenan Lewis to see an ample amount of time on the field as well.  I don't see Darren McFadden getting too many reps, so after Rashad Jennings gets his workload, look for the Raiders to test out their competing quarterbacks.  I feel the Raiders will come out passing the ball quite early in the game, giving Vaccaro and Lewis the opportunity to make an impact during Friday's matchup.Many people like to adapt to the idea that preseason doesn't matter, but for many teams in the National Football League it does matter.  Preseason football, at many times, can determine the outcome of the entire season for some organizations.  Whether it's injuries, starters becoming backups or backups becoming starters, preseason plays a substantial role in the NFL.  If you happen to tune in for Friday night's matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders, keep some of these factors and players in mind.  They may determine the outcome of the 2013 season.
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