An interesting chess match to watch out on the edge Sunday will be the one between Raiders left tackle Donald Penn and Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon. Penn continues to be one of the most reliable left tackles in all of football. His tactical style of play will let him play in the league into his late 30s.
Vernon has been banged up a bit for the Giants, having already missed four games in the middle of the season. However, he was instrumental in their playoff run last year and had a few good seasons with the Miami Dolphins before that. The Giants’ pass rush looks to be back to full strength now that Vernon has gotten his feet back under him.
This game between the Raiders and the Giants will largely be decided by which team protects its quarterback better. Oakland has the upper hand on the offensive line, or at least on the left side of the offensive line. Vernon is a good player, but will have to account for Penn and left guard Kelechi Osemele when trying to get after Derek Carr.
The more time that Carr has to throw the football, the better the chances are for the Raiders winning. When he averages more than 8.0 yards per attempt, the Raiders win ball games. Carr’s back may not be 100 percent, but we’re 100 percent Penn has his franchise quarterback’s back in this one.