The final quarter of the 2013 NFL season for the Raiders begins Sunday with the Raiders in New York to face the Jets. There's a lot riding on this game as it is the best chance the Raiders have of putting up another win over the final four games of the season.
The East Coast has not been kind to the Raiders over the past few years. They are riding a 12-game losing streak in the eastern time zone with the last win coming almost exactly four years ago on December 6, 2009.
Here's how to catch the game:
Where: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford NJ
When: 10:00am Pacific time, Sunday December 8, 2013
Radio: 95.7 The Game (Bay Area)
Online: NFL Game Rewind (after 9pm PST)
The Raiders fell short again last week against the Dallas Cowboys despite taking an early 21-7 lead. The Cowboys came roaring back to score 24 unanswered points to kill the Raiders hopes of coming away with the upset. It was a complete defensive collapse by the Raiders - a sight that has been all too common the latter half of this season.
Andre Holmes had a big day against his former team with 7 catches for 136 yards. It was his second week filling in for the injured Denarius Moore.
Several Raiders players also left the game with injuries including Mike Brisiel, Rashad Jennings, Usama Young, Kaluka Maiava, Jeremy Stewart, and Darren McFadden.
Brisiel left early in the game with a lower leg injury and was replaced at right guard by Lucas Nix. Rashad Jennings left late in the game with a concussion. He was replaced by Darren McFadden who would come down with an ankle injury in limited action. It was hard to know exactly when Maiava and Stewart left as both are reserves who don't see a lot of playing time.
Lots of injury updates and roster shuffling because of it.
Rashad Jennings was cleared and practiced all this week following the concussion he suffered against the Cowboys. He looks to be good to go for the game and is officially questionable.
It's a good thing Jennings looks like a go because Darren McFadden did not practice this week and is officially out. This is a new injury for McFadden. Not the hamstring strain that kept him out a month. This one is an ankle injury and there is no timetable for his return. It is possible he could be out the rest of the season which would mean he has played his last game as a Raider.
With the injuries to McFadden and Jeremy Stewart, the team has moved Taiwan Jones back to running back, where he played the first two seasons of his NFL career before being moved to corner and special teams gunner this off-season
Denarius Moore is still not back from his shoulder injury that has kept him out the past two weeks. Andre Holmes will once again start in his place.
The Jets will be fielding a pretty healthy squad. This compared to the Raiders who have seven players listed as OUT for the game.
As of Saturday, the Raiders officially placed Usama Young and Kaluka Maiava on injured reserve and waived Brian Sanford (again). In corresponding moves they called up safety Shelton Johnson, cornerback Chance Casey, and linebacker Marshall McFadden.
This game could be critical for Dennis Allen's hopes of remaining the Raiders' head coach after this season. With this game being very winnable, a loss could signal the makings of a six-game losing streak to finish out the season which would be trouble for him.
The Raiders' skill positions will once again be manned almost entirely of undrafted free agents. Five of them to be exact, with the other two positions manned by a sixth and seventh round pick.
Matt McGloin will once again start for the Raiders at quarterback. This game will be a homecoming of sorts for him. He grew up less than two hours from Metlife stadium in Scranton Pennsylvania. Two busloads of people from his hometown will be arriving to attend the game and McGloin is hoping to find the winning formula that made him such a successful Pennsylvania QB in high school and his senior season at Penn State.
One of the more concerning match-ups for McGloin is having Lucas Nix starting at right guard directly across one of the NFL's top 3-4 pass rushers - Muhammad Wilkerson.
One of the more encouraging match-ups for the Raiders is Geno Smith against anyone. He has been a train wreck much of this season including not having thrown a touchdown pass for the past six weeks. He was benched last week after the offense for the second week in a row couldn't score more than 3 points. He will start again this week and if the Raiders can't handle him, they are in even bigger trouble than I thought.
For the state of the Jets as they prepare to face the Raiders, see my Five Good Questions with Jets blogger John Butchko from Gang Green Nation.
The Jets have the number one ranked rush defense in the NFL this season so the Raiders will have a hard time picking up much on the ground. In that regard, Jennings and his ability to get yards after contact will be crucial.
You should be all set to go into this game knowing the state of both teams. Enjoy the game.