We’re headed to Week 13 and the Oakland Raiders have pulled themselves up to safety and away from the ledge

The Raiders’ playoff hopes are now in their own hands as they are now only a half-game out of first place in AFC West. But before facing the division leaders in Week 14, the Raiders need to focus on getting a “W” against the New York Giants.

The Giants in the meantime have already fallen off the cliff and are waiting to hit the floor. They have recently benched Eli Manning for Geno Smith (Yes, Geno Smith) and placed star cornerback Janoris Jenkins in IR. The benching of a star quarterback has not sat well in New York City and former players are left dumbfounded; adding more distraction to a lost season.

The drama within the Giants could not have come at a better time for the Raiders as they have recently lost WR Michael Crabtree after getting into a fight with Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. Amari Cooper also looks to be a long shot as he is under the league concussion protocol and also suffered an ankle injury against the Broncos. Things aren’t all bad though as cornerback David Amerson is expected to play this Sunday.

Below are some ways the Raiders can send the Giants back home with yet another loss as they creep up on the Chiefs.

Constant Pressure

Since entering the league Geno Smith has been an underperformer. His best year was 2015 when his PFF grade was 72.4 and had a QB rating of 87.9.

Source: PFF Player Grades

He is a player who needs key pieces around him on offense to have success. Unfortunately for him, every single player on offense is having a terrible year.

Source: PFF

The Giants offense poses no threat to the resurgent Raiders defense under new Defensive Coordinator John Pagano. Geno will try to get rid of the ball quickly or try to gain yards with his legs soon as the pocket starts to collapse. Putting a spy on Geno and sending exotic blitzes will keep Geno guessing and uncomfortable all afternoon. Expect to see another pick or two.

Below is the defensive scheme and the corresponding personnel which gives the Raiders their best chance at success:

  • Morrow can be used to spy Geno all game
  • Slot CB, Safeties or LB’s can all be activated for blitz

Keep Feeding the Beast

With the Raiders top two wide receivers out, the offensive game plan needs to be centered around the running game. The Raiders rushing offense sits at #27 as they are only averaging four yards per carry. And against the Broncos last week, Raiders only averaged 2.8 yards per carry. If you watched the game, it was obvious that this was mainly due to the play-calling being too predictable.

Todd Downing needs to improve play-calling and incorporate more motions, sweeps, and play-action to keep the defensive front guessing as to where the ball is going. Carr also needs to be given the power to change plays as he sees the defensive front lineup to better match against the opponents defensive looks.

This week, however, the Raiders run game should see less of a fight against the defense. Even though the Giants defense looks scary on paper, they have been anything but on the field. The pass and run defense ranks 29th and 31st respectively.

Let Cook Loose

With both Crabtree and Cooper out, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton, and Cordarrelle Patterson will face quality defensive backs in Apple, Rodgers-Cromartie, and Collins. You can bet that Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be loading the box against Marshawn Lynch and the offensive line.

To take pressure away from the running game, Downing needs to utilize Jared Cook and the running backs in the passing game early and often. The Giants linebackers have been weak in pass protection, per the eyeball test and PFF Stats, and should be taken advantage of. Per the above tweet from Art Stapleton, Giants Beat Writer, the team as a whole has not had much success stopping tight ends.

A few deep balls to speedsters Holton and Patterson will also keep the safeties honest and keep them out of the box. Playing completely one-dimensional against any opponent is a recipe for disaster.

Prediction

Even with the Raiders best two wide receivers out, the change of quarterback, outside distractions and the injuries should be too much for the Giants to overcome. Raiders win 20-10.

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