By Dave Thomas
As the Oakland Raiders get set to host the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, you can’t entirely fault them if they’re glancing ahead to the remainder of their schedule.READ MORE: Hollywood Movie, TV Workers Reach Deal With Producers to Avert Strike
Sitting in the AFC West catbird’s seat at 9-2, the Raiders hold a game lead over Kansas City (8-3), with a two-game edge on the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos (7-4). That said, there is much to be decided before the end of the regular season in the evening hours of New Year’s Day.
Oakland, which scored a come-from-behind win over Carolina this past Sunday, needs to run the gauntlet this month, which is three-of-four games on the road to finish the regular season.
After their meeting with the Bills on Sunday, the Raiders will play at Kansas City (Dec. 8), at San Diego (Dec. 18), and then close out the schedule with what could be a very meaningful game in Denver on Jan. 1.
With that being the case, no doubt head coach Jack Del Rio is reminding his troops that there is little margin for error this Sunday when Buffalo (6-5) comes to town.
Given the Raiders almost slipped up last weekend against an under .500 Carolina squad, the same pressure will face the Silver and Black this Sunday when they face a decent Buffalo team, though one they should handle.
Murray, Crabtree Could Miss Game
As has been the case for much of the season, Oakland’s top running back, Latavius Murray, may not see action against the Bills.
Murray, having accounted for 471 yards rushing and nine TD’s to date on the season, continued to see limited practice this week as he deals with a bad ankle.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree (60 receptions, 711 yards receiving, six touchdowns) is also nursing a sore ankle, and has seen limited action in practice this week.READ MORE: COVID Vaccination Count in San Mateo County Revised Down Due to Data Error
On the defensive side of the ball, Oakland will once again be without defensive tackle Stacy McGee. The four-year product out of Oklahoma is still dealing with a bum ankle, having not participated in practice this week.
Lastly, linebackers Perry Riley and Malcolm Smith are both tagged as questionable for Sunday’s game. Both players are dealing with hamstring injuries, having seen limited action during practice this week. Smith leads the team with 66 total tackles, while Riley has contributed 20.
Even though Buffalo does not have the most dynamic offense in the league, the Bills do enter the game with the 19th ranked offense in the NFL, tallying around 25.5 points per game.
Buffalo Has Injury Issues Too
Looking to remain in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card berth, Buffalo enters Sunday’s contest with a few injury concerns of its own.
One of the notable off-and-on injury subjects this season has been wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Clemson product again saw limited practice this week as he battles a foot injury, leaving him questionable for Sunday. To date this season, Watkins has only nine catches for 143 yards.
Wide receivers Percy Harvin (illness) and Robert Woods (knee) were both ruled out for Sunday. That leaves the Bills to focus on Charles Clay (36 receptions) and Marquise Goodwin (20 catches, three touchdowns) as a pair of go-to guys.
With injuries commonplace this late in the season, look for healthy players on both sides of the ball to go at it come Sunday.
For the Bills, staying alive in the AFC playoff hunt is the focus. Oakland will look to get a little more separation between itself and two rivals, Kansas City and Denver.
- (CB) David Amerson (Knee) – Limited Practice
- (WR) Michael Crabtree (Ankle) – Limited Practice
- (C) Rodney Hudson (Knee) – Limited Practice
- (RB) Latavius Murray (Ankle) – Limited Practice
- (G/T) Kelechi Osemele (Knee) – Limited Practice
- (LB) Perry Riley Jr. (Hamstring) – Limited Practice
- (LB) Malcolm Smith (Hamstring) – Limited Practice
- (LB) Shilique Calhoun (Knee) – Did Not Participate
- (CB) DJ Hayden (Hamstring) – Did Not Participate
- (DT) Darius Latham (Ankle) – Did Not Participate
- (DT) Stacy McGee (Ankle) – Did Not Participate