Going into Week 10, the Oakland Raiders had better step up their play all around the ball if they expect to beat the New York Giants, who are coming off a bye week and a two-game win streak prior to that.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning is playing better than he has all season, and men in blue are looking like they may be doing what they have done in previous years: start the season poorly only to turn it around and make it to the playoffs.
Up until this point in the season, the Giants’ running game hasn’t been a factor in games at all. They are in desperate need of a solid running game, and they may very well get that this weekend with the much-anticipated return of running back Andre Brown, who has been out since the preseason with a a broken leg.
Don’t expect Brown to come out and run the ball 30 times because he is still returning to football shape, but he will definitely add another element to the game that the Giants have been lacking. This addition will make the Giants no longer two-dimensional on offense.
The Raiders, on the other hand, got shredded last weekend for an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes. This could be a formidable matchup for Manning, who has a great receiving corps lead by Victor Cruz. Oakland needs to bring pressure, and lots of it. In order to win, they’ll need to step up on defense and not play like that they last week. If Manning he gets time, he’ll pick them apart and the Raiders might have a long day again.
Running the ball seems to be the only thing that the Raiders can rely on week in and week out, but with running back Darren McFadden out again this weekend, it could be tough for quarterback Terrelle Pryor to carry the load on his own especially when he’s sharing the load with sluggish runner Rashad Jennings.
Pryor is a tremendous threat, particularly running the ball, but without a decent running back in the back field to take pressure off of him, it makes his job much harder. In order to control the clock, they’ll have to go find a way to run the ball against this very questionable New York defense.
The answer to this problem would be for the Raiders’ coaching staff to start fullback Marcel Reece at running back if McFadden doesn’t play, and move a tight end or even Jennings to fullback. You’d think that at the professional level, the better player would get the start. Reece is one of the most versatile players in the league and produces every time he touches the ball. Oakland should bench Jennings and start Reece.
This matchup could go either way this weekend, but with the Giants having home-field advantage and winning their last two games, I’m going with them. If the Silver and Black want any sort of shot at the playoffs this year, they’ll have to win out the season and hope for a wild card spot, but with that being unrealistic, they should hope for a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.
Oakland still has some work to do before they can be considered a contender.