The Oakland Raiders travel across the country to play the New York Giants Sunday. The Giants looked abysmal early in the year losing their first six games. They have won two straight since and are coming off their bye week. The Raiders are 3-5 on the year after being blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles at home last week. Both teams need a win.
When the Raiders have the ball it will be the Terrelle Pryor show. Running back Darren McFadden is fighting a hamstring injury again and will miss the game. Rashad Jennings will take over for McFadden and has played very well when given the chance. Last week, he racked up 176 rushing and receiving yards and punched in an eight yard touchdown. The Giants defense is allowing 102.3 rushing yards per game which is ninth best in the NFL. Pryor has rushed for 106 and 94 yards in the last two games. He and Jennings will carry the ground game for the Raiders.With the Giants down a few players in the secondary, the Raiders may rely on the pass more this week. The passing game has been a work in progress all year as Pryor continues to learn the position. When he does go to the air, Pryor will be looking for his two best targets in wide receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. Moore has the ability to break one for a score any time he touches the ball. The issue has been the passing game as a whole needs to be crisper. New York allows the 16th most passing yards at 242 per game. They Raiders will have to have a plan for Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul when they drop back. New York has only 10 sacks this season, but Tuck and Pierre-Paul are dangerous pass rushers.
The Raiders defense had kept the team in games until they were embarrassed by the Eagles. They allowed Nick Foles to throw all over them with his record tying seven touchdown passes. The Raiders defense success, like many teams in the NFL, starts with their pass rush. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver loves to dial up creative blitzes. Defensive end Lamarr Houston has played extremely well this season and is the stark plug along the defensive line. The Raiders need to activate the pressure in order to play their style of defense.
Quarterback Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion. This year he has struggled severely with 17 turnovers already. New York's offensive line is missing some pieces and the rest has been shuffled around. The Raiders need to get pressure on Manning to force turnovers. In the Giants two game winning resurgence, Manning does not have a turnover. If they don't get to Manning, he will have his choice of weapons in the receiving corps. Victor Cruz is having the best year of any Giants wide receiver with 47 receptions for 677 yards and four touchdowns. The Raiders need to prevent his salsa dancing. Cruz will be Manning's first option, but he will involve Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle. Nicks has 34 catches for 521 yards, but zero touchdowns and Randle has 23 for 373 and four scores. Former Raiders tight end Brandon Myers is fourth on the team with 23 catches 265 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants throw the ball because the running backs they are parading out haven't seen a Madden roster in two years let alone an NFL one. Due to injuries, the Giants have used Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis as their primary backs the last three weeks. Their running game is near the bottom of the NFL averaging only 69.9 yards per game. The ground game will get a boost as Andre Brown returns from his broken leg. He will play in the game, but it remains to be seen how much work he is able to handle in his first game of the season.
Linebackers Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett will be responsible for stopping the New York ground game. The Raiders desperately want to shut it down and make the Giants one dimensional, passing only. Then the Raiders can unleash their blitz packages and try to force Manning into mistakes. The defense has a tremendous amount to prove after last week's debacle. Their pride is on the line in New York.
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