The Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans tee it up Sunday afternoon in the Black Hole, a pair of 4-6 teams trying to stay alive in the dog pile that is the AFC wild card race.
Almost a continent away in Scranton, Pa., this game will be a really big deal.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Raiders rookie quarterback Matt McGloin is a graduate of West Scranton High School. Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak, meanwhile, went to Scranton Central.
There are plans to present the winner of Sunday’s game with an “Electric City Bowl” trophy, considering that has been Scranton’s nickname for more than a century, since … well … electric lights were introduced there in the 1880s.
So, yes, it’s sort of a big deal in Scranton.
But it’s also sort of a big deal in the AFC playoff picture, because the loser is likely all but eliminated from contention.
The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are 5-5, with the Jets holding onto the No. 6 spot in the standings. The Kansas City Chiefs, at 9-1, are considered a fairly safe bet at the No. 5 position.
After the Jets and Dolphins, however, is a gaggle of teams—including the Raiders and Titans—at 4-6, including the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, Cleveland and San Diego.
That would be eight teams for one spot.
So, again, it’s sort of a big deal for the Raiders and Titans, too.
The Raiders will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this year and the first time in more than a year (they topped Jacksonville and Kansas City in late October 2012) and both teams go into the game with quarterbacks who weren’t under center in September.
McGloin started the season third on the Raiders’ depth chart and made his first NFL start last week in Houston. The Titans are without starter Jake Locker, who was lost for the season to a Lisfranc injury to his foot two weeks ago, and are going with Harvard graduate and former Buffalo Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tennessee is 0-3 in the games that Fitzpatrick has started this season, but he has solid targets in Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and former 49er tight end Delanie Walker.
The running back still known as CJ2K needs a solid finish to even be CJ1K this season. Chris Johnson has 632 rushing yards in 10 games and has a career-low 3.8 yards per carry.
So it’s not the ordinary matchup of teams with losing records, to be sure, not with all of the interest it will garner from all sorts of places.