Site: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. PST
TV: NBC – Al Michaels, Chris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya
1. Contain Dak on the ground
Cowboys’ second-year quarterback Dak Prescott is a threat with his feet, maybe more so than any quarterback the Raiders have faced this season. Prescott is tied for first among QBs with five rushing touchdowns, which would rank a close second on the Raiders behind Marshawn Lynch’s seven.
Prescott has carried 45 times for 288 yards this year, a 6.4 yards per carry average. He’s tied for third in yards per rush among quarterbacks with more than 10 carries, and ranks seventh among signal-callers in rushing yards. Even when he’s not darting past the line of scrimmage himself, Prescott can manufacture time for receivers while evading Oakland’s pass-rushers outside the pocket.
The Raiders haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown to an opposing quarterback since Marcus Mariota’s 10-yard scamper, the first touchdown Oakland surrendered this season. The highest rushing total they’ve allowed to a quarterback is 31 yards, on four rushes, by the Jets’ Josh McCown in Week 2. The Raiders have held other mobile QBs like Alex Smith and Tyrod Taylor in check. Now they’ll have to do the same with Prescott.
2. Derek, you there?
Derek Carr is quickly running out of time to salvage his disappointing season. A loss Sunday may spell the official end of Oakland’s bleak playoff hopes. No. 4 has been the primary culprit between the white lines, but there’s still a slight chance to whip out one last magic trick with three must-win games remaining.
Dallas ranks 23rd in pass defense, allowing 241 yards per game in the air. Carr’s chances will be there; now it’s time to “let it rip,” as the team has preached this week. And unlike a team such as New England, who allows plenty of yards in the air but not as many passing touchdowns as you’d think, the Cowboys rank 27th in the league with 24 passing TDs allowed through 13 games.
Primetime Carr has been up-and-down this year, turning in arguably his worst game of the year in Washington, then his best against Kansas City, then somewhere in the middle against Miami. Lets’ see what his fourth act under the bright lights gives us on Sunday Night Football.
3. Penetrating the Cowboys O-line
The Cowboys rank 10th in the NFL in sacks allowed, as both they and Oakland have highly touted offensive lines that have lived up to the hype.
The Raiders have 12 sacks in the last three games, after finding themselves in the NFL cellar with 14 in their first 10. The switch in defensive play-callers from Ken Norton Jr. to Joh Pagano has proved beneficial in that department. Bruce Irvin, Khalil Mack and Denico Autry have played their best football of the season in the last three games.
Can that trio get past Dallas’ offensive line to take Prescott down? That would certainly help in Oakland keeping its season alive for one more week.