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Eye on the Raiders: Breaking down the matchup


*'s Michael Eisen scouts the opposing offense, defense, and special teams: *

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –The Giants will make their first visit to Oakland in 12 years Sunday when they face the Raiders in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It will be their second visit to the Bay Area in four games after facing the 49ers in Santa Clara on Nov. 12. Both the Giants and Raiders were playoff teams in 2016 but have struggled this season. The Giants are 2-9, while Oakland is 5-6.

The Raiders lead the alltime series, 7-5, but the Giants have won the last three meetings, in 2005, 2009 and 2013. The Giants are playing in Oakland for the first time since Dec. 31, 2005, when their 30-21 victory clinched the NFC East title. They are 1-2 in Oakland and 2-4 in road games against the Raiders (including three games in Los Angeles).

What is the Raiders' biggest strength?

It would normally be their offensive skill players. But their two leading wide receivers, Michael Crabtree (NFL suspension) and Amari Cooper (concussion/ankle injury) are expected to miss the game. The Raiders, however, still have an impressive collection of ballhandlers. Quarterback David Carr was an MVP candidate a year ago. Marshawn Lynch, who once rushed for four touchdowns in a game against the Giants, has run for 457 yards and five scores this season. Tight end Jared Cook is tied with Crabtree and Cooper for the team lead with 42 receptions. The offensive line, though a bit banged up, is considered one of the NFL's best. The Raiders might be without their most productive wideouts, but the Giants cannot take them lightly.

Which player is key to the Raiders' offense?

That would be Carr – as he goes, so go the Raiders. He threw one interception in the team's five victories and seven in five defeats (he missed the loss in Baltimore with a back injury). Oakland won two of the three games in which he exceeded 300 passing yards, and lost four of the five games in which he finished with fewer than 240 yards. Carr has the arm strength to throw the ball deep and is confident, decisive and accurate on quick rhythm throws.

A look at the key playmakers on the Raiders' roster

What is the strength of the Raiders' offense?

Their passing game, even without Crabtree and Cooper. Carr can get hot at any time. He has developed a very good rapport with Cook, a first-year Raider who had more than 100 receiving yards in two of their last three victories. Backup receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has impressive speed, and running back DeAndre Washington has 28 catches.

Which player is key to the Raiders' defense?

That's easy – defensive end Khalil Mack, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Mack totaled 26.0 sacks the previous two seasons and leads Oakland with 6.5 this season, including one in each of the last two games. His numbers are down a bit because opposing offenses have learned they must pay him special attention. The Raiders have countered by moving him around the defense to try to create a favorable matchup, particularly on third down. Mack is also an outstanding run defender.

What is the strength of the Raiders' defense?

The unit's rejuvenation under John Pagano, the assistant head coach/defense, who became the de facto coordinator when Ken Norton was fired on Nov. 21. The coordinator for the San Diego Chargers the previous four seasons, Pagano has tried to simplify the defense. In his debut last week, Oakland held the Denver Broncos to 216 total yards – just 48 in their 10 possessions in the first three quarters. The Raiders had a season-high five sacks, including 2.0 by linebacker Bruce Irvin, who totaled 2.5 in the first 10 games. The Raiders even intercepted their first pass of the season after becoming the first team in NFL history to go 10 games without a pick.

Which player is key to the Eagles' special teams?

Patterson is one of the NFL's most dynamic kickoff returners. He is second in the league with a 29.0-yard average. His longest runback is 49 yards, so he has been consistently good. Patterson has five kickoff return touchdowns. Punter Marquette King also deserves acclaim. He is second in the league in both gross average (49.1 yards) and net average (44.3) on 46 punts.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Get pressure on Carr, make him uncomfortable in the pocket, and prevent him from getting on a roll. If he does, it will be much harder for the Giants defense to contain the Raiders.

Statistics you should know:

*The Raiders averaged 30.0 points in their five victories and 12.5 points in their six defeats.

*Oakland has the NFL's fourth-worst turnover differential at minus-9.

*The Raiders have a league-low seven takeaways, including six fumble recoveries.

*After allowing at least 115 rushing yards in four of their first five games, the Raiders have held five of their last six opponents under 95 yards; Denver ran for just 40 yards last week.

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