It’s now or never for Raiders as Cowboys come to Oaktown for primetime battle in Week 15

Photo credit: @RAIDERS

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Oakland Raiders will host the Dallas Cowboys in a primetime game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Sunday night. This will mark the end of Oakland’s home schedule for 2017. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. PST.

The game will be Oakland’s third appearance on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. They’ve played the Washington Redskins in Week 3 and the Miami Dolphins in Week 9.

For those who are interested, the Raiders are 1-1 on Sunday Night Football so far this season.

A loss to the Cowboys would officially eliminate the Raiders (6-7) from any postseason consideration, which was not what Oakland was hoping for coming into this season after making the playoffs for the first time since 2002 last season with a 12-4 record.

In Week 14, the Raiders fell flat on their faces losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, 26-15, at Arrowhead Stadium.

Starting quarterback Derek Carr was mediocre at best, throwing for 211 yards on 24-of-41 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions for a 60.1 quarterback rating. The Raiders offense was stuck in the mud for most of the game as Kansas City’s 30th ranked defense held Oakland scoreless through three quarters, while limiting the Silver and Black to just 268 yards of total offense.

On Oakland’s first five possessions of the game, the Silver and Black punted the football four times and Carr threw one interception. Starting running back Marshawn Lynch led the team in rushing, registering seven carries for 61 yards and one touchdown. Lynch rumbled for a 22-yard touchdown with 8:51 left in the game to break the scoring seal for Oakland, who were already trailing 26-0 at this point.

Shockingly, the Raiders ran the football just 11 times against Kansas City, who are terrible in stopping the run. Teams are averaging 124.8 rushing yards against the Chiefs this season.

Tight end Jared Cook was Oakland’s top receiver, leading the team with 75 yards on five receptions and one touchdown. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree had a team-leading seven receptions for 60 yards.

The Raiders’ defensive unit recorded three sacks for the second straight week, two registered by outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. In Oakland’s past two games, Irvin has recorded an NFL-high five sacks during that span and is second on the team behind defensive end Khalil Mack (8.5) with 7.5 sacks. Mack and middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman each recorded a sack.

Bowman also led the team in total tackles (11) and had one pass defensed, while safety Karl Joseph recorded his first interception of the season–just Oakland’s second interception of the season; Bowman has the other one–off Chiefs’ starting quarterback Alex Smith.

Dallas (7-6) defeated the New York Giants, 30-10, at MetLife Stadium in Week 14. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 332 yards on 20-of-30 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 137.1 quarterback rating.

Entering Sunday night’s game at Oakland, Dallas will have their first regular season visit since 2005. Prescott has thrown for 2,752 yards with 21 touchdowns and just nine interceptions for a 91.6 quarterback rating.

The second-year quarterback is on pace for his second-straight 3,000-plus yard passing season.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant is Prescott’s top receiver and could feast on Oakland’s weak secondary this week. Bryant leads Dallas in receptions (61), receiving yards (712) and receiving touchdowns (six). 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten remains a red zone threat, ranking second on the team with five receiving touchdowns for 457 yards on 52 receptions.

With stud running back Ezekiel Elliott serving a six-game suspension, the Cowboys are powered by backup running back Alfred Morris. The sixth-year pro has racked up 485 yards on 97 carries and one touchdown.

Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is the big star of the defense, leads the Cowboys with 13.5 sacks this season. Lawrence has the ability to quickly get to the quarterback and with Oakland’s once stout offensive line giving up more sacks this season with 17 (after surrendering just 16 sacks all of last season), Carr must be on high alert for No. 90 on Sunday.

Defensive tackle David Irving is second on the team with 7.0 sacks this season, while safety Jeff Heath leads the Cowboys with 52 tackles. Eighth-year middle linebacker Sean Lee is second behind Heath with 51 tackles. Heath also leads the team with three interceptions.

Following Sunday’s game, Oakland will travel east for a Christmas Eve against the Eagles in Philadelphia next Sunday. Philadelphia (11-2) has clinched the NFC East Division and are looking to lock down the NFC’s top seed, but will have to do it without franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz tore his ACL in Philadelphia’s 43-35 victory against the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 14 while diving into the end zone on a hit from Rams’ linebacker Mark Barron.

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