This past Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was a shot to the kneecaps for the Oakland Raiders. A loss in any of the final three games could be the coup de grace.
Their opponent this Sunday night is in the same position. The Dallas Cowboys have picked up two wins to get themselves to 7-6, but they remain a game out of the playoffs. A loss for either of these teams will doom their postseason aspirations, however unlikely they might be.
On defense, both teams are built fairly similarly. They’re solid against the run (Cowboys: 11th, Raiders: 16th) but iffy in pass coverage (Cowboys: 23rd, Raiders: 25th). However, they contrast on offense. The Raiders are 15th through the air, while the Cowboys are 25th; on the ground, the Cowboys are 3rd and the Raiders are tied for 26th.
The Cowboys success in the latter category is impressive in light of Ezekiel Elliott‘s absence due to suspension for most of the season, this game being the last. Alfred Morris has stepped up as a substitute runner, and given that the Raiders struggled against Kareem Hunt last week, he could be in for a big game.
Speaking of struggles, Dak Prescott has been pushing through them as of late. However, the Raiders secondary has been inconsistent at best all season, so a rebound performance is certainly in the cards.
Derek Carr had his worst game of the season last week, and he’s vowed to cut loose during these final three games. The Cowboys are extremely young at corner, but with Amari Cooper out again after re-injuring his ankle last Sunday, he’ll most likely be down at least one weapon this time around. The Raiders may have to lean on Marshawn Lynch, who is peaking at the right time.
Along with Cooper, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (ankle), safety Obi Melifonwu (hip) and tight end Clive Walford (concussion/neck) are all out. Melifonwu reportedly had surgery to fix his hip and will be heading back to injured reserve.
Cornerback David Amerson is doubtful with the foot injury that’s kept him out of the last six games. Defensive lineman Denico Autry (hand), center Jon Feliciano (concussion) and safety Keith McGill (knee) are questionable.
For the Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick (back), defensive tackle David Irving and linebacker Justin Durant (both concussion) will be out. Six players are questionable: wide receiver Brice Butler (foot), right tackle La’el Collins (back), defensive tackle Maliek Collins (foot), tight end James Hanna (knee), linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring/back) and left tackle Tyron Smith (back).
It’s difficult to pinpoint which team has the advantage, considering how up-and-down the Raiders and Cowboys have been in 2017. A victory means life in this instance, however. Making the playoffs could be a pipe dream for either squad, but hey, they have to try, right?