The Oakland Raiders (4-6) host the Tennessee Titans (4-6) this Sunday after splitting back-to-back road games. The historical record stands in favor of the silver and black 27-19 going back to the days of the Houston Oilers, but the Titans have won the previous two outings between the teams. Considering both the teams are amazingly still in the hunt for the last wild card spot in the AFC, expect this game to be very competitive despite backup quarterbacks at the helm.
The Raiders are coming into this game following a moral boosting away win at the Houston Texans, while the Titans are coming in on the back of a demoralizing defeat. Let’s look at three things we can expect from this game;
1. Ferocious Battle in the Trenches
If not for the whole team, the Titans are at least known to play aggressively in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Titans defensive line is especially known to be dominant at the line of scrimmage despite struggling of late since their 3-1 start. Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey is very disruptive and has accumulated seven sacks on the season, but has struggled in stopping the run. On the offensive line, the Titans are similarly physical and are starting to kick up run game after a terrible start by running back Chris Johnson.
The Raiders’ guards will have a fight on their hands this weekend trying to neutralize the inside pressure an the stunts the line runs. The Titans have notched 27 sacks on the season–one more than the Raiders–but they do it with their front seven while the Raiders use their entire defense to get to the quarterback.
2. Running the Ball
The ground game will be a feature of both teams game plan considering the Titans’ stingy pass defense and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s knack for turning the ball over. Johnson is averaging 3.8 yards per carry after a slow start and has helped revive the the Titans’ pass as well. The Titans rank 16th in the league in rushing offense with 4.1 ypc and 18th in rush defense. It is important to note that teams have been running more against the Titans because of their superior pass defense. The Tennessee defense has only allowed a league leading 7 touchdown passes all season and i don’t expect Matt McGloin to light up the Titans secondary like he did the Texans last week.
3. Which Backup Quarterback Will Fare Better?
Undrafted rookie Oakland quarterback Matt McGloin proved he belongs against the No. 1-ranked Houston pass defense by throwing for three scores. This week he will face Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty without Denarius Moore, who is out with a shoulder injury, in what should be a tough physical game. Other players like Mychal Rivera will have to step up and fill the void and help out their rookie QB.
Ryan Fitzpatrick played well last Thursday in a losing effort, going 22-for-28 for 222 yards with one TD, but more importantly no interceptions. The Titans have an array of receiving talent with Delanie Walker, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Jason Hunter. Hunter could miss the game with an injury and Kenny Britt is on the outs with the coaching staff, but the rest of the the receiving corps is very talented and will be a hand full for the Raider secondary. Walker is especially dangerous down the seam and is a matchup nightmare for a linebacker.
Last week the Raiders lost a valued member of Raider history with the passing of former tight end Todd Christensen, and this week Raider Nation lost Thomas Howard in a high speed highway crash in Oakland. The former No. 53 was a free agent. Christensen, who proudly represented the colored past of Raider Nation and wore No. 46, was known as an intellect who was another misfit in the Raider locker room who fit right in. Both will be remembered by Raider faithful.