After going 5-2 across a seven-game stretch and moving to 6-4 on the season, the Raiders are now coming off back-to-back losses — with the first an ugly loss at the Jets in which the run-based Raiders were unable to get their offense off the ground against the top two run defense of New York, and with the other an embarrassment at Arrowhead in which the Chiefs cleaned the floor with Oakland in a 40-9 win. Now, the Raiders — at 6-6 — will return home where they are, somewhat surprisingly, three point underdogs against the red-hot Titans. This game carries a somewhat surprising Over/Under of 47.5, with both teams leaning on the ground game in order to rack up production (the Titans rank 25th in pass play rate while the Raiders rank 26th; each team would love to rank even lower than that).
We’ll kick things off on the Raiders side, where Derek Carr has failed to top 300 passing yards in every game this season, while finishing under 225 yards in three of his last four outings. Carr has been held to 31 or fewer pass attempts in seven consecutive games, and he has topped 32 pass attempts only two times this year.
The major piece for the Raiders through the air, of course, is Darren Waller, who has recent target totals of 5 // 7 // 6 // 9 (and has finished below five targets only once this year). Waller draws a winnable matchup against a Titans unit that has allowed the ninth most yards to the position, while allowing the following notable stat lines to high-usage tight ends:
The matchup is also attractive elsewhere for the Raiders passing attack against a Titans defense that was already down Malcolm Butler, and that now appears on track to be without Adoree Jackson. The Titans have picked up burn victim Tramaine Brock off waivers — though it’s fair to question how effectively the Raiders will be able to take advantage of all this with wideouts. Tyrell Williams posted a few useful lines during his five-game touchdown binge to begin the year (including an actual notable stat line in Week 1), but he has topped 50 yards only three times, and he has topped three catches only once since Week 2. Hunter Renfrow was posting useful floor lines, but he remains out. This leaves Zay Jones, who has yet to top 30 yards with Oakland.
Part of the reason wide receivers have been so ineffective for this offense is the fact that the true alpha of this unit is Josh Jacobs, who has touched the ball 17+ times in eight of his last nine games, with four games in that stretch of 24+ touches. Jacobs draws a tough matchup as a yardage-and-touchdown back against a Tennessee defense that ranks fourth in DVOA against the run and has allowed only Christian McCaffrey to top 100 yards on the ground.
While Jacobs has been a really solid backfield addition for the Raiders this season, Derrick Henry has been an absolute man among boys over the last month for the Titans, producing rushing totals of 188 // 159 // 149 across his last three games, while producing five touchdowns in this stretch and 13 touchdowns on the year. In spite of this game taking place on the road, the Titans are in position to control this game enough to continue riding Henry, who has recent touch totals of 25 // 20 // 29. Henry played 74.6% of the snaps last week and was schemed a couple passes on screens, giving him at least some semblance of all-around juice. Fundamentally, Henry is a yardage-and-touchdown back who is priced up near the top of the slate, making him an inherently volatile player to bet on; but he has been consistent enough, and is difficult enough to deal with at this time of year, that he can certainly have a case made for him as one of the stronger options on the slate.
With so much of the Titans offense flowing through Henry (and with this team playing slow and regularly finishing on the lower ends of the play volume scale), pass catchers on this team are having to get the job done on explosive plays rather than on volume. While this is a ding to floor expectations for these players, the matchup is a ceiling booster, with the Raiders ranked 28th in DVOA against the pass and allowing almost 10 yards per target to wide receivers, while giving up the following notable stat lines (with explosive plays littering the higher yardage totals on this list) ::
6-172-2 Demarcus Robinson
7-97-2 Allen Robinson
The Titans are involving all of A.J. Brown (recent target counts of 7 // 4 // 5 // 4), Corey Davis (6 // 5 // 3 // 2), Adam Humphries (4 // 1 // 3 // 2), and Jonnu Smith (5 // 6 // 0 // 2). With volume so low in this group, this is (again) primarily a “bet on big play” offense, making Brown the likeliest play of the bunch to hit. In the absence of big plays, touchdowns could also get the job done — providing some less predictable paths to one of these other players posting a solid game of his own.
JM’s Interpretation ::
it’s quite a slate when Titans at Raiders has potential to be among the more useful games. On the Raiders side, nothing stands out, but Jacobs, Waller, and even Tyrell Williams all have an outside shot at mattering on this slate. On the Titans side, the Derrick Henry train has potential to run off the tracks on any given week, but his upside is enough to make him a play on this slate that is actually worth considering. Behind Henry, there are matchup-based bets to make on Ryan Tannehill, Brown, and to a lesser extent, Davis and Jonnu. There have certainly been better options than this throughout the season, but it won’t exactly be a shock if one or two Titans pieces become part of the winning roster mix.