One game at a time.
This is Oakland’s motto through the remaining five games of the season. A team that has walked on thin ice for most of the season in terms of making it to the playoffs took a big step forward on Sunday. Not only did the Raiders’ win over the Denver Broncos keep them out of the AFC West basement but the Chiefs loss to the Bills places Oakland only a half a game behind first place in the division.
Now returning back to the Coliseum to host a hapless New York Giants team Oakland finds itself in a good position to pull to .500 on the season and more importantly stay relevant for January.
Let’s take a look at how the Raider’s can topple the Giants come Sunday-
Force Geno Smith to Beat You
With the announcement from New York that the Giants would be placing Eli Manning on the shelf and handing the reins over to Geno Smith should come much rejoicing from Raider Nation. Smith, who has only started 30 games in his four and a half seasons in the NFL, posts an average quarterback rating of 72.3 and has a touchdown to interception ratio of 28 to 36. Similar to last week, Oakland must look to stop the Giants’ ground game and force Geno Smith’s arm to beat them.
Both of the Giants’ wins this season came when they were able to pound the rock and open up play action for Manning. Orleans Darkwa leads the charge for the Giants’ ground game and rumbled for 74 yards and one touchdown and 117 yards against the Chiefs and Broncos respectively.
As seen in this run, the Chiefs load the box but Darkwa is still able to find a seam and gash them for 14 yards. Fortunately, for the second straight week, the Raiders get to play a team that will look to the run game to help their less experienced signal caller. The Raiders held Denver running backs Booker and Anderson to an average of 2.1 yards per carry last week and need to do the same against the Giants.
Ground and Pound
Oakland will be without their two top receivers so Downing needs to look to his stable of running backs to ease Carr’s afternoon. Luckily for Downing and Carr, the Giants currently rank 31st in the NFL in run defense, giving up an average of 131.7 yards per game on the ground, 4.3 yards per carry. In examining San Fransisco’s only win of the season, which came against the Giants, they were able to stretch the field in the run game-
Notice in both of these runs the cutback lanes that open up for the running backs. In the 49ers game, those lanes were created because San Fransisco pounded the edges of the defensive line with success. Oakland needs to stretch the field on the ground and allow lanes to open up for Lynch and company. I see the smaller speedy Richard and Washington finding success in this “one cut” type running against the Giant’s defense.
Work the Middle of the Giant’s Defense
The #Giants have allowed 62 receptions (95 targets) for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns to tight ends this season.
With Crab and Coop likely out, #Raiders' Jared Cook should have a BIG day.
— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) November 30, 2017
Over the past two games, the Giant’s have given up 187 receiving yards and 1 touchdown to opposing tight ends. This bodes well for Jared Cook. Carr will need a helping hand without his playmakers on the outside and Cook needs to be his go-to target on Sunday. In these clips, we see the Giants struggle to cover Kelce and Celek-
Cook’s speed against a slower interior New York defense should result in a big day for the tight end. Not only should Cook be able to feast on the interior, but also utilizing Patterson’s and Holton’s speed across the middle should result in an air attack that can compliment the run game. Especially now with top Giants corner Janoris Jenkins out due to injury.
This is a gift wrapped game for the Raiders. With the big news that Oakland doesn’t have to face two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning and top corner Janoris Jenkins shelved for the rest of the season, the Raiders have every opportunity to win this game even without Crabtree and Cooper. Plus, with the noose tightening and only five games left, Oakland will play with a much greater sense of urgency than the Giants who have decided to start the rebuilding phase with their team this week. Raiders get the win in the Coliseum. Giants 16 Raiders 24