By Dave Thomas
Since starting quarterback Derek Carr is out six to eight weeks following surgery to repair a broken right fibula, the pressure now falls on Oakland’s backup quarterback Matt McGloin to lead the team during its week 17 matchup and into the playoffs.
With the Raiders since 2013, McGloin’s career stats are OK, but not spectacular. In some starts and some mop-up action, McGloin has thrown for 1,847 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 INTs. Those are not the worst numbers in the world, but not exactly stats that will throw fear into the eyes of the opposition. The most playing time that he has seen in the NFL came during his first season in the league (2013) when he threw for 1,547 yards (eight TDs, eight interceptions).
McGloin Gets Denver Right Off The Bat
McGloin will line up under center against a Denver team that will not be defending its Super Bowl title come January. Coming into this Sunday’s game at 8-7, you can bet that Denver wants to finish the season on a high note, which will prove a difficult test for McGloin and the Raiders.
Additionally, as the Broncos are hosting the Raiders, division rivals Kansas City (11-4) and San Diego (5-10) will collide in Southern California. With the Chiefs a game back of the Raiders in the AFC West standings, a Kansas City win and an Oakland loss would give the former the division crown. That potential victory would also allow the Chiefs to get in position for the number two seed (assuming New England finishes first in the AFC) and a first-round bye.
As a result, McGloin and the Raiders have plenty to play for come Sunday in Denver, notably an AFC West championship and a week off. That potential week off would mean the Raiders would only have to win two conference games (instead of three) to make it to Houston and the Super Bowl. With a young QB at the helm (at least in terms of starting experience in recent years), having one less game to play come January could prove huge.
Loss Of Carr Doesn’t Automatically Doom Oakland
Despite losing Carr to a season-ending injury, the Raiders still have plenty of talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball to make plenty of noise in the playoffs.
On offense, McGloin can turn to running back Latavius Murray (777 yards rushing, 12 TDs) to chew up yardage on the ground, while wide receivers Michael Crabtree (956 yards receiving, eight touchdowns) and Amari Cooper (1,114 yards receiving, four TDs) are threats to go the distance whenever they catch the ball.
That said, both Crabtree and Cooper have been battling nagging injuries the last couple of weeks, proving all the more reason why Oakland wants to win this Sunday and earn a first-round bye.
Lastly, the Raiders have a capable defense, so McGloin and the offense won’t have to win it all on their own. To date Malcolm Smith (91 total tackles) and Khalil Mack (11 sacks) are but two of the Oakland defensive stalwarts this season. It will take a total team effort, but Oakland is certainly capable of winning in Denver and making a splash in the playoffs.