After back-to-back losses, the Oakland Raiders need a win to stay in the AFC playoff conversation, but that win won't be easy to come by with the Tennessee Titan marching into the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this weekend.
While the Silver and Black have lost two in a row, the Titans are team reborn as they've won five of their last six games, and with just four games left to decide who earns a spot in the postseason, Sunday's game will be tightly contested.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 pm PT; here are three matchups that will play a huge role in who ends Sunday as the victor.
Josh Jacobs vs. Derrick Henry
In the spirit of full transparency, as a fan of football, I cannot wait to watch this battle unfold Sunday afternoon at the OACC.
On one side, you have the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, a dude who's hit the 100-yard mark five times already, and who has arguably been the most reliable weapon on the Raiders' offense in Josh Jacobs.
On the other is Derrick Henry, a man who has run for nearly 500 yards…. over the past three weeks.
In addition to both Jacobs and Henry being members of the Alabama Crimson Tide, they're also among the best, young running backs in the NFL, capable of taking over a ballgame on their own.
The Raiders and Titans share a handful of similarities – most noticeably that both squads are at their best when they can get their feature back to eat early and often.
Let's see which of these backs – who have both already hit the 1,000-yard mark – runs rampant Sunday.
A.J. Brown vs. Trayvon Mullen
This should be one of the best battles between rookies we've seen all 2019.
While the Titans aren't known for being a team that really likes to "air it out," A.J. Brown has become their de facto No. 1 option out wide. The Ole Miss product leads the team in both receiving touchdowns (4), and receiving yards (626), and ranks second on the team in receptions (34), and while Brown is no doubt a talented wideout, consistency has eluded him for sections of his rookie campaign.
Brown has hit the century mark in a game twice – most recently in the team's Week 12 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars – but he also has six games where he's failed to record at least 30 receiving yards.
For the Silver and Black, Trayvon Mullen has gotten better and better each week since taking over a starting role Week 8, and is also coming off of one of his best performances of 2019 where he tallied a pair of passes defensed as well as an interception that was questionably taken off the board.
The Titans – much like the Raiders –want to pound the rock, but Mullen, Daryl Worley and the rest of the Raiders' DBs are going to have their hands full out wide as well.
Derek Carr vs. the Tennessee secondary
The past two weeks, we haven't seen the version of Derek Carr that we've become so accustomed to seeing since 2014.
Since Week 12, DC has just one receiving touchdown – compared to three interceptions – and has completed just 61 percent of his passes.
Now, is this reason for concern just yet? Not at all; the ebbs and flows of an NFL regular season are difficult to navigate, and even the best signal-callers in the league go through periods where they aren't playing their best.
That said, if the Raiders want to handle business, and beat the Titans Sunday afternoon at the OACC, Carr will need to return to form, and if history is any indication, he'll do just that.
Try this stat on for size; Carr has played the Titans three times in his career, and not only does he own a 3-0 record against the squad from Music City, he's thrown six touchdowns and just a single interception.
The Tennessee pass defense ranks just 27th in the NFL, so I'm excited to see if Carr can take advantage of those chances and really impart his will on Sunday's game.
During the holiday season, the Raiders visited UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland to interact with young patients and their families, hand out toys, sign autographs and take photos.