The Raiders return to Oakland after losing two straight on the road to host fellow AFC wild-card contender Tennessee at 1:25 p.m. Sunday. Here’s a breakdown by position:
Derek Carr’s stock has taken a big hit with back-to-back subpar outings in blowout losses at the New York Jets and Kansas City. He has fared much better in favorable weather conditions, so the return to the West Coast should be advantageous. Ryan Tannehill’s elevation to the starting lineup was the key to the Titans’ turnaround.
Josh Jacobs continues his march toward the Rookie of the Year award, but his status is in doubt because of a lingering shoulder injury. If he doesn’t play, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard will share the load. Derrick Henry is a workhorse who is having his typical strong close to a season. He has run for at least 149 yards in three straight games and has five touchdowns over that span. This would be a close matchup if Jacobs were healthy. Considering his status, it’s no contest.
Tyrell Williams hasn’t scored a touchdown in his past five appearances after finding the end zone in each of his first five games with the Raiders. Tight end Darren Waller continues to be a star, as the Raiders try to find different ways to exploit his talent. Without injured slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, Carr needs to find chemistry elsewhere. Tennessee has plenty of talent with A.J. Brown and Corey Davis, but nobody has stepped up as a go-to target and the Titans will be without injured Adam Humphries. Tight end Jonnu Smith has flashed in veteran Delanie Walker’s absence but not enough.
The loss of injured right tackle Trent Brown could be enormous for a Raiders front five that has taken a step back the past few weeks. Oakland is still better than the Titans up front. Tennessee has been brutal in pass protection, allowing an NFL-worst 12.4 percent adjusted sack rate, according to Football Outsiders. The Titans are far better on the ground, which is how they prefer to move the ball. Right guard Nate Davis has struggled.
The Titans are solid across the line. Jurrell Casey and Jeffery Simmons are playmakers on the edge, and Daquan Jones controls the middle of the line. The Raiders’ defensive line had been playing at a high level for several weeks, but took a step back with the rest of the team the past two weeks.
The Titans’ Jayon Brown plays almost every snap and is one of the league’s top inside linebackers. His steady presence has helped Harold Landry become a breakout star on the outside. The Raiders still are looking for answers in their linebacking corps. Preston Brown could help if he’s fully up to speed with the defensive play calls. Marquel Lee was activated from injured reserve this past week.
The Titans will be without cornerback Adoree Jackson, but Tye Smith played well last week and Logan Ryan is solid. But the key to their success is Kevin Byard, one of the league’s elite free safeties. Injuries have depleted the Raiders’ secondary, but Daryl Worley and Erik Harris have been good. Rookie corner Trayvon Mullen continues to improve.
Both teams are in the bottom fourth of the league, but inconsistency in the kicking game has seen the Raiders’ special teams ranking tumble to 26th on Football Outsiders. Tennessee is 24th. Titans kicker Ryan Succop missed the first eight games with a knee injury, then went 0-for-3 on field goals in his first week back. He missed an extra point the next week, but is 10-for-10 on PATs since and made his only field-goal attempt last week.
Before the Raiders (6-6) left on their two-game road trip, there was talk of winning a division title. Now the team is desperately trying to stay in the wild-card race. Tennessee (7-5) has been on an upward trajectory since replacing Marcus Mariota with Tannehill.
Who: Titans at Raiders
When: 1:25 p.m. Sunday
Where: Oakland-Alameda Coliseum
TV/Radio: KLAS-8, KYMT-FM (93.1)
Line: Titans -3; total 47½