Raiders face mirror image Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 23: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs against Stanford Routt #26 of the Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on December 23, 2007 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

 This Sunday the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders may find themselves in a battle with mirror images of themselves. On Sunday, I decided to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans game as my early game for the day. During the game, I found myself saying, “Wow, these Jaguars are really pounding the Titans today.” They ran the ball 53 times for 258 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Most of those yards were by their superstar running back, Maurice Jones-Drew. If that stat line looks familiar to you, it could be because later in the afternoon, it was the Raiders who would pound the San Diego Chargers with 52 runs for 251 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

But the similarities in their game-plans did not stop there because when you run the ball that physically and aggressively, it’s not only a game-plan, it’s an identity.

Both teams want this to be their identity. Both teams would like to just beat you up physically and break you down mentally. So far, the method has produced 13 wins for the two teams this year– not too shabby. Unfortunately, there may only be room for one team with this identity in the AFC playoffs this year, and this game on Sunday will go a long way in determining which (if either) team will be there at the end of the season. Both teams still have a shot at being their division winner this year. If not that, both teams are in the hunt for wildcard spots. This game is huge for both of them.

Three out of the Raiders next four games will be huge for them. These three games could be the deciding factor in two different divisions this year. For example: if the Raiders beat the Jaguars on Sunday, the Colts could win the AFC South based on that, or if the Raiders lose the game on Sunday, it could be that one win the Jaguars need to upset the Colts in the AFC South. Should the unspeakable happen and the Raiders beat both of them, plus the Donkeys in between, then the final week of the season could decide the AFC West division, should the Chiefs lose just one game during that time.

Yes, my friends, this is the time of year when things get tricky…all sorts of playoff scenarios will be popping up over the next few weeks, so stay on your toes. Isn’t it nice though that the Raiders actually have meaningful games in December instead of just trying to be a spoiler?

But let’s get back to the main topic right now. Here’s a few more similarities between the Raiders and Jaguars in their respective victories over their divisional foes on Sunday:

  • Jags net passing: 119                      Raiders net passing: 117
  • Jags on 3rd down: 6/15                   Raiders on 3rd down: 8/15
  • Jags avg. per rush: 4.9                    Raiders avg. per rush: 4.8
  • Jags T.O.P.:         39:54                     Raiders T.O.P.:          38:39

Heck, the Jags and Raiders both pulled out play-action bootlegs where each team’s quarterback scored a touchdown untouched. If you watch both replays, you could practically take Jason Campbell’s run and put it in the David Garrard replay and only be able to tell the difference by the abnormal colored uniform. And therein lays another similarity, the mobility of the two quarterbacks. It is really odd to see two different teams have such similarities heading into a showdown with each other.

I can’t leave out the defense. How could I when one of the biggest angles this thing takes headed closer to the game will be the comparison of Kirk Morrison vs. Rolando McClain?

Both defenses have been less than spectacular this year, but both units have shown potential, especially in games like this past weekend. Yet, when you start talking about statistics, both teams are near the bottom . Here are a few defensive similarities between the Raiders and Jaguars:

  • Jags points per game: 25               Raiders points per game: 22.6
  • Jags yards per game: 362.4          Raiders yards per game: 331.2
  • Both teams leading tacklers are safeties (C. Greene, M. Huff)
  • Both middle linebackers are third in tackles and even wear number 55 (K. Morrison, R. McClain)
  • players in common: Khalif Barnes, Kirk Morrison, Quentin Groves, John Henderson…Zach Miller(same name and position, different player)

While the Jaguars are better at intercepting the ball (11-7), the Raiders take the cake when it comes to getting to the quarterback and getting sacks (36-21). But regardless of their differences, the Raiders and Jaguars have a lot more in common like:

  • Total plays:           Jags-773              Raiders-779
  • Rushing yards:    Jags-1818            Raiders-1788
  • FG %:                    Jags-81                 Raiders-77
  • Pass plays:          Jags-346              Raiders-364
  • Yards per run:     Jags-4.7                Raiders-4.8
  • T.O.P.:                   Jags-32:03           Raiders-30:58

Must I go on? Should be a good game on Sunday and I, for one, am looking forward to it. Perhaps these two will play so physically that they take each other out of the playoff race with just the injuries they suffer. I know, horrible thing to say, but hey the way these two are capable of playing when they show up, you’d better cross your fingers.

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