The Tennessee Titans travel to play the host Oakland Raiders on Sunday in a matchup of two 4-6 teams trying to stay alive for a wild card playoff berth.
Oakland is coming off a 28-23 road win over the Houston Texans and the Titans are coming off a bye. Tennessee’s last game was a 30-27 loss to Indianapolis on a Thursday night game on November 14th. They have lost five of their last six games after starting the season 3-1.
Oakland and Houston come into this game with backup quarterbacks starting in place of their starting QB’s. Undrafted rookie Matthew McGloin made his first career start last week and had a solid performance (he completed 18 of 32 passes for 197 yards, including three touchdowns and a flashy 105.9 Passer Rating). He also became the first undrafted rookie QB since 1967 to record three TD’s and no turnovers in his first NFL start.
“He played flawless football, especially for this being his first start in the National Football League,” veteran safety Charles Woodson told the Associated Press. “He put the ball in there. He had some guys early on in the game that had some drops, but he put it right on the numbers and those are catches the guys have to make for him.”
Wide receiver Rod Streater and tight end Mychal Rivera were the main beneficiaries of the QB change. Streater caught six passes for 84 yards and Rivera snagged five passes for 54 yards. Speedster Denarius Moore caught just two passes for 11 yards and the QB change seems to have affected him the most. However, Moore is questionable for game on Sunday with a shoulder injury.
“Our job as coaches is to try to do the things that we feel like give us the best opportunity to win,” Head coach Dennis Allen told the AP. “That’s what those players in that locker room are looking for. Now, it’s good to know that you have options. That’s, obviously, a positive. I don’t look at it as a tough situation. I look at it as a good situation.”
Without Pryor last week, running back Rashad Jennings was a workhorse as he ran 22 times for 150 yards, including an 80 yard late in the third quarter. Jennings is averaging 113.3 yards per game the last three weeks and a gaudy 6 yards per carry. Jennings gets stronger as the game goes on and the defense starts to wear down as evident by his long TD run against the Texans. He also has been a factor in the passing game, he has 23 receptions (8.2 yards per catch).
Jennings will be facing a run defense that has given up 15 rushing TD’s all season, tied for last in the League. Tennessee’s pass defense is allowing just 213ypg, 7th best in the NFL so Jennings should get plenty of opportunities against the Titans run defense.
Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has replaced starter Jake Locker, who is out for the season with a foot injury. Last week, Fitzpatrick completed 22 of 28 passes for 222 yards and a TD in the loss to the Colts. He has thrown for 97 career TD’s, but he’s also a bit careless with the football as well, he’s thrown 98 interceptions and has 44 fumbles.
Titans RB Chris Johnson is the focal point of Tennessee’s offense. However, he isn’t quite the game-breaking threat he used to be this season. Johnson is averaging just 3.8ypc (as opposed to his career average of 4.6) and his longest run of the season is only 30 yards. And it’s reflected in in the Titans 16th ranking running game but they will be matched up against a Raiders run defense that is allowing just 97.6 yards per game (6th best in the League).
Prediction: Raiders win, 20-16.
-Oakland leads the all-time series, 23-19. This will be the first time the two teams have played in Oakland since 2004, the longest stretch in between visits in the AFC.
-Johnson registered 142 yards on 27 carries the last time the two teams faced off in a 38-13 win over the Raiders in Nashville on September 12th, 2010.
-Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie and players Denarius Moore and Kevin Burnett played their college football at the University of Tennessee.
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