The Oakland Raiders will face the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon in Week 13. Here are the five man-on-man matchups to watch in this game.
After improving to 5-6 on the season with a win over the Denver Broncos last week, the Oakland Raiders will try to make it two in a row when they host the struggling New York Giants (2-9). New York has already been eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC. However, their two wins have come against AFC West opponents in Denver and the Kansas City Chiefs. They also kept it interesting versus the Los Angeles Chargers back in Week 5.
Oakland is the favorite in this game, but will be by a significant margin now that Giants head coach Ben McAdoo did the unthinkable. He benched long-time starter and franchise cornerstone quarterback Eli Manning in favor of the former failed New York Jets starter Geno Smith. If this isn’t to help ensure that the Giants will have a top-five pick, I’m not sure what is.
So the Raiders stand a very good chance at improving to 6-6 on Sunday with a home victory over the Giants. Should the Chiefs fall to the Jets at MetLife on Sunday, the Raiders could be in first place in the AFC West. Of course, the Raiders will need the Chargers to lose at home to the winless Cleveland Browns as well, so that’s not happening.
Anyway, the Raiders are about to play their easiest game of the final five on their slate. Do keep in mind that New York was a playoff team only a year ago. The Giants do have talent on their roster at several positions. Here are the five man-on-man matchups you will want to pay close attention to in this game.
NaVorro Bowman vs. Geno Smith
Raise your hand if you thought the quarterback versus inside linebacker matchup when the Giants came to town would be Smith versus NaVorro Bowman at the start of the season. Exactly, and this is why we love the NFL. You never know what’s going to happen.
The Raiders had major issues in the middle of their defense at the start of the year. Frankly, they still do, but Bowman’s veteran presence and cerebral nature to the game has made him quite the get at middle linebacker for the Raiders. He even had the team’s first interception of the season on Sunday. Man, was that thing glorious.
Smith will be thrust into the starting lineup as Manning’s time in the Big Apple is coming to an end. Though a five-year NFL veteran, Smith has played sparingly the last three seasons. He has only appeared in one game this season for the Giants. That game would be the blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams a few weeks ago.
In college, Smith was proficient in the West Virginia Mountaineers’ Air Raid offense. However, that collegiate success has not translated to NFL success for him. He tends to throw interceptions in bunches, which caused him to lose the Jets starting job after two years in 2014. Look for Bowman to have his Raiders defense playing well on Sunday when they face Smith and the Giants’ aerial attack.