The Oakland Raiders will host the Tennessee Titans in a match-up of teams with 4-6 records. Surprisingly, that is good enough to put both teams in decent position for the last wildcard playoff spot. With that on the line, this is a very important game for both.
Defensively, the Raiders have done a terrific job of stopping the run, allowing only 97.6 yards per game which is sixth best in the NFL. That will be a huge point of emphasis as the Titans rely on Chris Johnson and their running attack to lead the offense. The Titans average 112.3 yards per game on the ground which is right in the middle of the pack. Running back Chris Johnson is still their top offensive weapon with 632 yards and four touchdowns. He has not produced as many of his signature breakaway runs, but still has explosiveness. The Raiders first objective Sunday will be to bottle up Johnson and force the Titans to throw.
If the Raiders can force Tennessee to beat them through the air, it will be by back-up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is completing 61.2 percent of his passes for 1,012 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions in five games played. He will lead the 23rd ranked passing offense into Oakland, averaging 212.3 yards per game. When Fitzpatrick puts it in the air, he will look for tight end Delanie Walker, who has 18 receptions for 153 yards and two scores in the last two games. On the outside, wide receivers Kendall Wright and Nate Washington are the top two leading receivers on the team.
Oakland wants to make the Titans one dimensional on offense by using their stout run defense. That will enable defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and head coach Dennis Allen to dial up pressure. It will also allow defensive end Lamarr Houston to focus on getting after the quarterback. Linebackers Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett have been everything the Raiders could have asked for this season. They will need the defensive line to get penetration and take on blocks. That will allow them the space to find Chris Johnson and stop the run.
Offensively, the Raiders will go with quarterback Matt McGloin, who will make his second career start. Last week, McGloin shined with three touchdown passes and zero turnovers. He goes against a very good Titans pass defense, allowing 213.1 yards per game. That is seventh best in the league. McGloin will also be without his top receiving target as Denarius Moore is out with a shoulder injury. Andre Homes will start in place of Moore. He made a great 33 yard leaping catch last week, but that was the only catch he has all year. Holmes will be a big factor in the game as well as wide receiver Rod Streater and tight end Mychal Rivera. Those three will be McGloin's best targets Sunday.
Despite, McGloin's solid play in his debut, the Raiders offense wants to run the ball. They have the fourth best rushing offense in the NFL with 145.4 yards per game. Running back Rashad Jennings is in store for a large workload with the injuries and inexperience in the passing offense. Jennings has filled in for the injured Darren McFadden, who will miss his third straight game, extremely well. Last week he rushed 22 times for 150 yards, including a powerful 80 yard touchdown run. The offense goes through Jennings Sunday.
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