A preview and prediction as the Oakland Raiders conclude their two game home-stand against the New York Giants.
This coming Sunday, the Oakland Raiders will be able to do something that they have not done since Week 4 — be at a .500 win percentage. Heralded as the league’s toughest division coming into the season, the AFC West has been arguably the weakest division in the entire NFL, based on the overall win/loss records of all four teams.
At 5-6, the Raiders have still not been eliminated from playoff contention. A win this Sunday against the 2-9 New York Giants would elevate them to 6-6 and would turn the following week’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs that much more significant. But before we can look ahead to Week 14, the Raiders are going to need to handle their business and win this week’s game first.
The Giants are looked at as not only one of the worst teams in the league, but also one of the most dysfunctional. After losing four of their last five games, head coach Ben McAdoo, elected to bench long-time starting quarterback Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. Whether that will help the Giants should not be of any concern to Raiders fans, as John Pagano can use all the help he can get.
The Giants currently have the 28th ranked offense in terms of yards per game, while being second to last in points per game, at 15.6. Although the Giants have been suffering from a countless amount of injuries, they were expected to be a much more functional unit. The Giants’ defense has also regressed in a big way — ranking 31st in the league in yards given up per game, as well as giving up just over 24 points per game. With Janoris Jenkins shelved for the season and Damon Harrison’s game status not looking good, Todd Downing is getting all the help he can get.
Speaking of Todd Downing, the Raiders offense will be without both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper this Sunday. It will be up to Downing to see how he can get production from the wide receiver position, which is currently occupied by Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton and newly promoted Isaac Whitney. Although Derek Carr has gotten by with below average receivers before, you can fully expect Marshawn Lynch and the entire running back group to get 30+ carries against the Giants. The Giants give up over 130 yards per game on the ground, meaning Marshawn having a big day, could be the key to victory.
The Raiders defense finally showed some life last Sunday. After the firing of Ken Norton Jr., John Pagano was the next man up, in which he coordinated the defense into their first interception of the season, to go along with a season high 5 sacks. Granted, it was against Paxton Lynch of all people, it was still nice seeing an actual NFL quality defense make plays last Sunday.
Again, the Raiders are going to need to keep generating pressure in order to force Geno Smith into uncomfortable situations. Expect Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin to both have big games this Sunday, as the Giants have one of the worst offensive lines in the entire league. I’ll also go out on the limb and say that due to the pressure Mack is going to put on Geno, you can expect to see the defense accumulate another interception.
If the Raiders want to get back to the 2016 version of themselves, they need to win this game in convincing fashion. The Raiders have the edge in nearly every category, from coaches, to both the offense and defensive units. Anything other than a win by double digit points would be unacceptable.
Prediction: Raiders win, 30-17