It may not be Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, but Matt McGloin vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick has implications Sunday. The Raiders are hosting the Titans, and it's basically a playoff game to stay in the AFC playoff race. Both Oakland and Tennessee are 4-6, and they're two of eight teams in the AFC that are 5-5 or 4-6 and vying for the last wild-card spot. (Either the Chiefs or Broncos, both 9-1, will run away with the other one.) "No one here is talking about the playoffs, but we would like to string some wins together so that we can," said Raiders defensive lineman Vance Walker. Both teams have been up and down this season, with the Raiders coming off a 28-23 win at Houston. The Titans have lost five of their past six games, including two in a row after Fitzpatrick took over for injured Jake Locker. McGloin, the undrafted rookie out of Penn State, gets his second start after becoming the fourth player since the 1970 merger to throw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first career start. But the Titans are a little more concerned with stopping Oakland's running game. The Raiders have been without starting running back Darren McFadden (hamstring) the past 2 1/2 games and have gotten better. Rashad Jennings has run 57 times for 340 yards the past three weeks and had a career-best 150 last week. Jennings has been running around and over defenders, as his 3.2 yards per carry after contact is the highest in the NFL of any back with 20 or more carries. (McFadden was averaging 1.9.) The Raiders need Jennings to keep the pressure off McGloin on Sunday. "That's kind of been our thought process all along," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said, "is to have a good solid running game and take some of the pressure off the quarterback, do some things in the play-action passing game." Tennessee is allowing an average of 129.2 rushing yards over its past six games. If they can contain Jennings, the Titans and talented defensive tackle Jurrell Casey can go after McGloin. The third-year player out of USC has 37 quarterback hurries, third in the league among interior linemen, according to Pro Football Focus. And he seems to have a very favorable matchup against struggling Raiders guard Lucas Nix. Tennessee plays a lot of man-to-man coverage and has given up only three passing touchdowns in the past eight games. Unlike the Titans' defense, the Raiders' defense is better against the run than the pass. And Tennessee running back Chris Johnson is no picnic.
Titans, Raiders hope to run past the other
San Francisco Chronicle | Nov 24