For better or worse, we get to see the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving. The game begins at 1:30 p.m. on the west coast, so by dinner time you may not have an appetite. If the Raiders want to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the regular season for the first time since 2005 (and avoid embarrassment on national TV), they’ll need a little luck and a simple game plan:
The NFL gives 40 seconds to start a play, so Oakland should make the most of it. The longer Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant stand on the sideline, the better. The Raiders can’t forget Matt McGloin is making his third professional start, so touches for Darren McFadden, Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reece are essential. Eight-man boxes be damned, the mere threat of a handoff by the second half will keep the Dallas back seven on their toes.
Expose the defense.
A domestic flight makes more stops than the Cowboys, who rank dead last in the NFL in yards allowed per game after 12 weeks. Injuries and underachievement have been a common theme, while Dallas might boast the worst safety tandem in the league in Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Dallas hangs its hat on generating turnovers, so if the Raiders play intelligently and grind away their opponent should eventually give.
Play to perfection.
Any fan who’s followed the Raiders or Cowboys for more than five seconds can tell you their team is prone to committing mistakes. It’s no coincidence that the two clubs are currently tied for 26th in the NFL in penalties per game at 7.1. The thought of returning to your families and inhaling a turkey is distracting, but the team that can focus on the gridiron for 60 minutes will emerge the victor.