3 things to watch in Sunday’s Raiders-Jaguars game
The Raiders look to end a three-game losing streak when they host the Jaguars, who have lost five straight, Sunday in their final game at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Raiders (6-7) will look to end a three-game losing streak when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), who have lost five straight, Sunday in their final game at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
The Raiders have allowed 34, 40 and 42 points in the losses. Coach Jon Gruden called last week’s defensive performance against Tennessee “sickening” and vowed to make changes.
At this point in the season, that’s easier said than done. But after cutting a few players, including safety D.J. Swearinger — who started all three games in the current losing streak — the Raiders appear ready to give more snaps to younger players in the secondary, such as cornerback Isaiah Johnson and safety Dallin Leavitt.
The Jaguars’ season turned into a mess after a 4-4 start. They had high hopes after signing quarterback Nick Foles in the offseason, but he was hurt in the opener, then returned from injured reserve and started three games before getting benched for rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew.
Here are three things to look for in the Week 15 matchup:
1. Will defensive changes make a difference?
The Raiders have a significant challenge in trying to stop running back Leonard Fournette. He’s not as big as Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, but at 228 pounds, he’s capable of running over defenders.
With the Jaguars playing from behind in their past five games, Fournette hasn’t had as many opportunities. But earlier this season, he rushed for 225, 108 and 131 yards in a four-week span.
Jacksonville will look to exploit that matchup. The Raiders’ run defense has been poor in the past three home games, allowing 146 yards to the Chargers, 173 to the Bengals and 161 to the Titans.
2. How much will Jacobs play?
Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs did not play last week because of a shoulder injury. Gruden said Friday that Jacobs practiced well throughout the week, but he wasn’t sure if the rookie would be ready to play or, if he does, how much.
Jacobs said Friday that he felt “all right” and planned to play.
Given how well DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard performed in Jacobs’ absence, it stands to reason that he wouldn’t necessarily get a full workload if he plays. And that could affect the offense’s effectiveness.
3. Will the receivers be effective?
While the Raiders’ tight ends have excelled this season — particularly Darren Waller — their wide receivers have been disappointing. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow are tied for the team lead among wide receivers with 36 receptions each. Williams is tied for the team lead with five receiving touchdowns but has just 524 yards. Renfrow, who won’t play Sunday because of a rib injury, has 396 yards.
The Jaguars’ pass defense has been inconsistent, surrendering 330 yards through the air in last week’s loss to the Chargers but just 125 to the Colts in Week 11. Gruden said he wants to get second-year wide receiver Rico Gafford more involved. He had a 49-yard touchdown reception last week.
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Who: Jaguars at Raiders
When: 1:05 p.m. Sunday
Where: Oakland-Alameda Coliseum
TV/Radio: KLAS-8, KYMT-FM (93.1)
Line: Raiders -6½; total 45½