There will be massive playoff implications in Week 14 when the Oakland Raiders play host to the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff is set for 4:25 EST on Sunday, December 8 at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on CBS.
According to our Week 14 NFL odds, the Titans are 2.5-point favorites on the road. There is also an over/under for the game set at 47.5 points.
It’s a little surprising to see the Raiders still in the playoff hunt at this point in the season. But a three-game winning streak in November got them to 6-4. Unfortunately for Jon Gruden and company, a pair of lopsided road losses to the Jets and Chiefs have knocked the Raiders back to 6-6, giving Oakland a lot of work if they hope to reach the playoffs.
As it stands, the Raiders are a game behind both the Titans and Steelers for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. That gives them a lot of ground to cover over the final four weeks of the season. The good news is that this is Oakland’s last game against a team with a winning record. However, since it comes against a team that they’re currently trailing in the playoff chase, it’s a game the Raiders have to win.
As for the Titans, they have seen their fortunes change after benching Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. With Tannehill starting, Tennessee has won five of their last six games, including a 31-17 road win against the Colts last week. Not only are the Titans tied with Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card spot, but they are also just a game behind the Texans for the AFC South division lead, giving them two potential paths toward a playoff spot.
Most importantly, the Titans control their own destiny in the playoff hunt. With two head-to-head games left with the Texans, Tennessee will win the AFC South if they win out. Of course, playing the Texans twice won’t be easy, and it doesn’t help that sandwiched in between is a home date against the Saints. In other words, the Titans have a difficult schedule down the stretch and their playoff hopes could disappear quickly with a couple of losses. That makes this week’s game in Oakland a virtual must-win for the Titans.
It’s a little hard to bet against Gruden in a big game like this because he’s done an impressive coaching job this season. However, the Raiders have looked atrocious during the last two weeks. Plus, on the season, they are scoring less than 20 points per game and giving up 27 points. Obviously, that’s not a winning combination. Meanwhile, the Titans are red-hot and I think they’ll be able to cover a field goal on the road.
For Tennessee, it’s not just that the switch to Tannehill has made the difference. They also have a top-10 running game. Derrick Henry has rushed for over 1,100 yards this season and is averaging close to five yards per carry. In fact, he’s exploded for 496 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games. In other words, he’s laying the foundation that is allowing Tannehill to have success.
I see no reason why that should stop this week. The Raiders have struggled to stop good rushing teams for most of the season. I expect the Titans to establish their ground game and stay balanced offensively. The biggest concern for the Tennessee offense is an offensive line that’s allowed 49 sacks in 12 games. However, I don’t see Oakland’s subpar pass rush taking advantage of that weakness, especially if they have to respect Henry and the running game. That should allow Tannehill time in the pocket to pick apart the Oakland secondary.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have a strong rushing attack of their own. Rookie Josh Jacobs has already surpassed 1,000 yards on the season and is the engine that makes Oakland’s offense go. However, Jacobs is a little banged up after last week’s loss to the Chiefs. Also, even with Jacobs, the Raiders have only managed a total of 29 points over the last three weeks. Keep in mind that came against the likes of the Bengals, Jets, and Chiefs, teams that aren’t necessarily known for their defense.
Meanwhile, the Titans have a quality defense that’s capable of keeping good offensive teams contains. Only three teams have put up more than 20 points against the Tennessee defense this season. Outside of Jacobs, I’m not convinced the Raiders have the playmakers to do much damage against the Tennessee defense. If the Titans can keep the Oakland running game in check, they should be in good shape.
In the end, I feel more comfortable leaning toward the team that’s red hot right now as opposed to the team that’s been outscored 74-12 over the past two weeks. The Titans are a respectable 3-3 on the road this year and have outscored their opponents by 36 points in their last two games. I think both teams keep moving in the same direction, which means a comfortable road win for Tennessee.