Oakland is 3-5 and sitting in the basement of the AFC West after getting absolutely blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend. Nick Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes, coming out of nowhere to dominate a very suspect defense. If the Raiders want any hope of making the playoffs, this has to be a win.
New York is sitting at a surprising 2-6, but incredibly still has a chance to win its division. The Dallas Cowboys are only 2.5 games ahead of the Giants, two games in the loss column, and the teams meet in a few weeks. New York has won two straight games and is coming off a bye week, looking to top the Raiders before playing an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team.
Meet the Raiders
Many thought Oakland might be the worst team in football before the season began, but that has proven not to be the case. The Raiders have been led by second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who has thrown for 1,437 yards and ran for another 485. The problem has been the turnovers, tossing nine interceptions against five touchdowns. Also, his completion percentage has not cracked 53.9 in any of his last three games.
In fairness to Pryor, he does not have much help around him. Despite the Raiders exceeding expectations, it certainly is not because there are breakout performers at the skill positions. Denarius Moore is playing well on the outside, emerging with 32 receptions and 513 yards. Darren McFadden has been limited as usual by injuries, totaling just 352 rushing yards and 3.6 yards per carry.
Defensively, Oakland has been stout against the run, ranking sixth by allowing only 94.6 yards per game. However, the passing game has gotten the Raiders torched on a week-to-week basis. Oakland comes in ranked 25th, which is likely to be a problem against Eli Manning and his trio of receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle.
Meet the Giants
New York looks incredibly dead in the water at 0-6, but has risen to at least provide its fans with some hope heading into the winter chill. Manning has been mostly dreadful this season, but after throwing a league-high 15 interceptions through the first six games, has provided a clean sheet over the last two contests. This has to continue for Big Blue to have any hope.
The running game has been a massive disaster for the Giants. Brandon Jacobs actually leads the team in yards rushing with 154, followed by David Wilson at 146 and Peyton Hillis at 106. None of them are averaging more than 3.5 yards per attempt and as a team, New York has rushed for a paltry 559 yards. Needless to say, someone has to step up.
On defense, the biggest problem has been the complete lack of a pass rush. The Giants only have 10 sacks on the season, ranking them dead last. Overall, New York has the 14th defense in yards per game allowed but have given up way too many points at 27.9, coming in 28th.
Local take: Oakland
Over at Silver and Black Pride, Jeff Spiegel wonders whether Dennis Allen is the right man for the job:
If Allen's not the guy, though, why give him another season? Think about how much more attractive this job is as a blank slate job with tons of cap space and some impressive young players at a few positions.
If the Raiders wait a year, then they've got a bunch of guys already signed under contract — signed to fit whatever scheme next year's coach is in favor of — and the job becomes less attractive (especially if the team didn't do well enough to earn the coach another season).
Local take: New York
Ed Valentine of Big Blue View gives his choice of the Giants' most improved player:
My choice, however, would be cornerback Prince Amukamara. The 2011 first-round pick is finally beginning to live up to his status as the 19th overall pick in that 2011 NFL draft. He has just one interception, but has played solidly and finally looks like the player the Giants were hoping for. He may not be an elite shutdown corner, but he certainly is a quality player.
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The Giants have more talent and are playing at home. More so, they are coming off a bye week and the Raiders have to travel all the way across the country. It is hard to see Oakland pulling this game out of the fire considering how much is going against them this week. On top of that, New York can smell contention with a win, knowing the Cowboys have a date with the New Orleans Saints.
Pick: New York 30, Oakland 20
The Giants are favored by nine points over the Raiders at home, with an over/under of 43.5, according to Oddsshark.com.
New York hosts the Packers while Oakland travels to face the Houston Texans.