Considering the Oakland Raiders have lost their lost two games by a combined 62 points, it’s easy to count them out for the rest of the season. However, the team stands at 6-6 with the next two games being played at home and the third game in their second home, Los Angeles. It may seem like a longshot, but the Raiders could still get to the playoffs. If they’re going to get there, they need to beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The Titans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL as they’ve won four of their last five games. It’s easy to write off the Raiders in this matchup, but head coach Mike Vrabel isn’t underestimating Jon Gruden’s squad.
“We’re focused on the team that’s 4-1 at the Oakland Coliseum,” said Vrabel on Wednesday, via Jerry McDonald. “A defense that gives up 20 points a game at the Oakland Coliseum. An offense that averages 360 yards at the Oakland Coliseum and a team that is plus-four in turnover margin at home.”
Vrabel is 100% right, the Raiders are a completely different team at home. It’s their last year in Oakland and fans are consistently loud and fired up. This last stretch of home games is the perfect chance for the team to turn things around.
Raiders Still Have a Great Run Game
Just like the Raiders, the Titans rely heavily on their run game. Oakland is 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game and Tennessee is ninth. Both teams are led by former Alabama running backs. Derrick Henry is a big, powerful runner while Josh Jacobs is more elusive and slippery. Henry is third in the NFL in total rushing yards, Jacobs is fourth. Vrabel acknowledged that the Raiders are going to run the ball a lot.
“I told our team, if you think we run it, they’ve run it 10 more times than we have,” he said.
What’s most impressive about Jacobs is that he’s been playing with a fractured shoulder since Week 7. The matchup between the Titans and Raiders on Sunday could very much be decided by which team has the better running game. Interestingly enough, Tennessee’s defense is allowing the 10th least amount of rushing yards per game while the Raiders are allowing the 11th least. The two teams couldn’t be more similar and it should lead to a thrilling game.
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Raiders Need to Create Turnovers
There’s one key to victory for the Raiders and that’s winning the turnover battle. As Josh Dubow at the Associated Press pointed out, they have the worst winning percentage in the NFL when they lose the turnover margin.
If Oakland can be better with the ball, they have a much better chance of winning. Derek Carr has uncharacteristically thrown three interceptions in the last two games. He has to avoid making those throws. The defense also needs to be more opportunistic. Nevin Lawson dropped an interception that was right in his hands against the Kansas City Chiefs and Trayvon Mullen had one taken away because of a pass interference call. Behind all of the mistakes, there is still a good Raiders team to be found.