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GAME PREVIEW Raiders-Eagles: Biding Time on Christmas

There is a very specific scenario for the 6-8 Oakland Raiders to get into the playoffs. Ready?

-They have to win their last two games (obviously).

-The Buffalo Bills have to lose out (they play the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins; not impossible, but the Dolphins are barely alive as well).

-The Tennessee Titans also have to lose out (a very real possibility, since they play the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars).

-The Kansas City Chiefs have to lose to the Dolphins this week (not very likely).

-The Baltimore Ravens have to win at least one of their next two games (they play the Indianapolis Colts today and the Cincinnati Bengals next week).

The Raiders would’ve been dead in the water anyway had the Titans won last week. Alas, they remain on life support. Really, outside of the Chiefs and Dolphins game, the rest of that scenario could very well happen.

Except for one thing: the Raiders have to win. And Monday night’s Christmas game against the Philadelphia Eagles is a tough task, even with the absence of Carson Wentz.

But remember the last time that Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles faced the Silver and Black? I’ll give you a reminder: it involved seven touchdown passes.

Foles tossing a week’s worth of TDs isn’t likely to happen again, but with the way the Raiders secondary has played this season, it also wouldn’t be a shock to see. They’re 23rd against the pass in the league, but at times they’ve performed a lot worse. Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz are also huge threats through the air, especially the latter considering he’s a tight end.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Eagles lean on their rushing attack as well. The Raiders aren’t terrible at stopping the run (right in the middle of the pack at 15th), but the duo of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount could easily wear them down.

Running against the Eagles might not be a feasible option. They’re the best in the NFL at shutting down the ground game. Marshawn Lynch could be in for a long night, despite his success over the past few games.

That means the Raiders might have to air it out early and often. That’s something they’ve struggled at this season, for a variety of reasons. The Eagles secondary is stronger than their 22nd ranking would suggest, so Derek Carr may have some problems. Amari Cooper may attempt to play after missing last Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The injury bug is ravaging the Raiders this week. They had to put both left tackle Donald Penn, backup center/guard Jon Feliciano and tight end Clive Walford on injured reserve, which led to them elevating James Stone and Pharaoh Brown from the practice squad and poaching Ian Silberman from the Cleveland Browns.

Cornerback David Amerson could be joining them soon; he’s missed the last seven games with a foot injury and is listed as doubtful for Monday night. Defensive linemen Treyvon Hester and Mario Edwards Jr. (both ankle) are out. Cooper is listed as questionable with his own ankle injury, as are defensive lineman Denico Autry (hand/ankle), center Rodney Hudson (kidney stones/ankle), linebacker Bruce Irvin (concussion), cornerback Dexter McDonald (knee) and safety Keith McGill (knee/illness).

The Eagles have just three players on their injury report, and they’re all questionable to play: cornerback Jalen Mills (ankle), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (foot) and left guard (and former Raider) Stefen Wisniewski (ankle).

At this point, the Raiders are only playing for pride, despite the slim wildcard chances. The Eagles have locked up the NFC East but can still secure better seeding in the conference at large. Hopefully, the two teams will at least put on a competitive contest for the holidays.

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