Non-conference match-ups like this are usually not important, but this game is critical for Oakland if they want to be taken seriously in the AFC. This game is less important for the Falcons, but they can continue to drive the dagger into the rest of the NFC South with another victory.
Quarterback: Carson Palmer has had a great year this season, but Matt Ryan has been that much better. Advantage: Atlanta
Running Back: A bad year for Darren McFadden and an okay year for Michael Turner. Tough call, but one back has been there for his team. Advantage: Atlanta
Wide Receiver and Tight End: If only Palmer had the type of targets Ryan has. Injuries have killed the Raiders receivers and the Falcons receivers have gone bananas. Advantage: Atlanta
Offensive Line: Ryan has been sacked 12 times, but the Falcons have run the ball well. Palmer has only been sacked seven times, but Oakland can’t run the ball. Tough decision, but the Falcons have won every game. Advantage: Atlanta
Defensive Line: There’s something about Oakland’s defensive line that is intriguing. Atlanta’s line has had results. Advantage: Atlanta
Linebackers: The strength of Oakland’s defense is once again the strength of its opponents. Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas have played better than Phillip Wheeler and Rolando McClain. Advantage: Atlanta
Secondary: One team is seventh against the pass, the other is 27th. You decide who get’s the edge. Advantage: Atlanta
Specialists: One of the few things the Raiders can hang their hat on. The Falcons are good, but no one matches Oakland in this category. Advantage: Oakland
Coach: Mike Smith is an early candidate for coach of the year. Dennis Allen is still learning the kinks of this league. Advantage: Atlanta
This is as close to a must win as it gets for the Raiders and a trip to Atlanta is not what the doctor ordered for this team.