Entering this season, I circled Week 13 of the season on my calendar for the Raiders. The matchup appeared juicy on paper. Eli Manning and the G-Men visit Oakland in a showdown for two 2016 playoff teams. Well, things never go as planned. Each team suffered losses, with the Giants hit harder and unable to recover.
There is something seriously wrong with the Giants organization right now. The locker room looks fractured with rumors of criticism of Eli Apple’s play making him almost leave the team, Janoris Jenkins sitting down in recent weeks for seemingly small infractions, and on Tuesday, Eli Manning declined to be the starting quarterback of the team for this week. A Super Bowl quarterback declined to be the starter of the NFL team that employs him. While this appears shocking, Manning possessed a good reason. Instead of playing a series or two, in order to maintain his consecutive games streak alive, he elected to sit out. Earlier this season, the injury bug bit Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall simultaneously, culminating in an embarrassing 2-9 record for the Giants.
On the other side, the Raiders’ top two wide receivers fell unavailable for the game, The NFL suspended Crabtree for fighting. In addition, Amari Cooper suffered head trauma and sprained ankle from one hit.
When you look at both teams, this weekend could feature a mess. Geno Smith will take snaps as the starting quarterback for the Giants. Additionally, Davis Webb expects to also see time. The Giants have two legitimate threats on offense in rookie Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. Injuries elevated him to the number one option on offense.
Shepard remains questionable with migraines as of right now. Orleans Darkwa is the surprise running back the Raiders 12th ranked run defense will have to deal with on Sunday.
Again, the Raiders active receivers this weekend will be Johnny Holton, Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts, and
Isaac Whitney. In that case, it is safe to say that Marshawn Lynch should get plenty of attempts to wear down the Giants defense. Tight end Jared Cook should play a role. The Raiders receivers will fare well against a Giants’ passing defense that ranks slightly lower than the Raiders in yards given up and touchdowns allowed.
Ultimately, this boils down to a team, trying to make the playoffs and has something to play for in the Raiders. Conversely, a Giants team that continues to implode. The Giants made a quarterback change in the middle of the week, possibly missing another receiver, and flying across the country. Luckily, David Amerson may play. Also, the team activated cornerback Antonio Hamilton off injured reserve. With a playoff spot within reach, the Oakland Raiders need all the help they can get. Expect a much closer game than anyone expects.