New York Giants (2-9) vs. Oakland Raiders (5-6)
Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
Sunday 4:25 PM ET (Fox: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink)
This will be the 13th all-time game between the Giants and Raiders. Oakland leads the all-time series 7-5 but the Giants have won the last three games. Sunday’s game will be the final Giants/Raiders game in Oakland as the Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas by the time the Giants play them again.
GIANTS INJURY REPORT
OUT: Linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck/wrist)
DOUBTFUL: Offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back)
QUESTIONABLE: Cornerback Eli Apple (hip), defensive tackle Damon Harrison (elbow)
RAIDERS INJURY REPORT
OUT: Wide receiver Amari Cooper (concussion/ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: Cornerback David Amerson (foot), offensive lineman Gabe Jackson (ankle), linebacker Cory James (knee), wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (hip)
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
Eli Manning will not be the Giants’ starting quarterback for the first time since November 14, 2004, a streak of 210 consecutive games. Instead, Geno Smith will make his 31st NFL start and first for the Giants.
Smith has a career record of 12-18 but is 2-0 against the Raiders. He hasn’t played since tearing his ACL in Week 7 last season as a member of the New York Jets. There may be some rust in the beginning as Smith gets himself acclimated.
The Giants get back wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who missed the past two games with migraines. Shepard’s return should free up tight end Evan Engram. Engram had his worst game of the season in the loss to the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving night.
The offensive line’s main objective will be containing reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. Mack has 6.5 of the Raiders’ 19 sacks. Oakland is down at the linebacker position due to injury but are getting solid production out of NoVarro Bowman, who joined the Silver and Black five games ago. Bowman recorded the Raiders’ first interception of the season in their victory over the Denver Broncos.
The Giants will look to take advantage of Smith’s mobility and ability to make plays with his feet. They will also need to get the running game going but that’s been easier said than done. The Giants are 26th in the league on the ground, averaging 91.3 yards per game.
WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL
The Giants are without their top cornerback in Janoris Jenkins, who was placed on season-ending IR this week. The good news for the Giants, however, is Oakland will be without their top receivers in Cooper and the suspended Michael Crabtree. This is of no consequence, however.
If David Carr wants to have success against the Giants, he would look to tight end Jared Cook early and often. The Giants have allowed 10 touchdowns by a tight end this season, ranked dead last in the league. Cook is tied with Cooper and Crabtree for the team lead in receptions with 42.
Marshawn Lynch is coming off a 26-carry game against the Broncos but he only gained 67 yards. The 2.6 yards per carry were Lynch’s second lowest of the season. Harrison’s run-stuffing ability will be needed to keep from Lynch from going Beast Mode.
WHO WILL WIN?
In a way, the Giants and Raiders are mirror images of one another: two teams that began the season with Super Bowl aspirations who majorly underachieved. The Giants have been eliminated from the playoffs but a Raiders win will put them at .500 and in the hunt for the AFC West crown.
Speaking of the AFC West, the Giants’ two victories this season came against AFC West teams (Broncos: Week 6, Kansas City Chiefs: Week 10). Oakland has momentum on its side after getting a much-needed over a division foe. The Giants are in freefall. The elevation of Geno Smith will do nothing to put a W in the column, at last not this week.