Date: Sunday, December 12, 2010
1:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Type Of Turf: Natural
Meeting Of The Year: Only
Season Record Vs. Spread:
Oakland (R) 2-4-0
Jacksonville (H) 4-2-0
Home/Road Record Vs. Spread:
Oakland (R) 3-2-1
Jacksonville (H) 4-2-0
Record On Natural Turf:
Record On Natural Turf Vs. Spread:
Raiders-Jaguars PreviewBy BRETT HUSTON
STATS Senior Writer
2010-12-09 00:24:37 -
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been outscored by 43 points this season, a differential that suggests they should be residing in the AFC South basement.
Right now, they aren't looking up at anyone.
In first place through 12 games for the first time since 1999, the resilient Jaguars look to move a step closer to a surprising division title Sunday afternoon as they host the Oakland Raiders in a matchup of two of the league's top rushing attacks.
Jacksonville (7-5) lost four of its first seven games by a combined 99 points, a start that put it in last place behind Tennessee, Houston and Indianapolis - teams that, at that point, were a combined 13-6.
Those three division rivals are 3-14 since then, while the Jaguars have reversed course. Jacksonville racked up a season-high 258 rushing yards Sunday at Tennessee, winning 17-6 and taking over sole possession of first place after the Colts' overtime loss to Dallas.
Suddenly, the division's worst point differential means absolutely nothing.
"This isn't about anyone but us,'' tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "We set our goals high before the season and we have a chance to make those a reality. We know what we have in this locker room, we know what we're putting on the field and we know what we're capable of.''
Though Jacksonville hasn't led the division this late in more than a decade, this isn't unfamiliar territory for coach Jack Del Rio's team. The Jaguars were 7-5 a year ago after winning four of five, a hot streak that had them in position to be one of the AFC's two wild cards despite a minus-48 point differential.
An 0-4 finish ended those hopes.
There's reason to believe this season will be different. Jacksonville's remaining schedule doesn't feature a team with a winning record, and it can salt away the division by beating Indianapolis next week and winning any one of its other three games.
The league's second-ranked running game has the Jaguars confident that can happen. Maurice Jones-Drew has five straight 100-yard games - the NFL's longest active streak - as Jacksonville has averaged 184.8 yards on the ground in that span.
"I like our physical approach,'' Del Rio said. "... The team that controls the line of scrimmage wins the game a large percentage of the time.''
The Raiders (6-6) know that, perhaps better than any team in the league. In their six wins, they've averaged 133.5 more rushing yards than their opponent. In their six losses, they've been outgained by 84.2 yards per game on the ground.
Miami outrushed Oakland 186-16 in a 33-17 victory in Week 12, but the Raiders enjoyed an even larger disparity in their favor Sunday in San Diego. Oakland outgained the Chargers 251-21 on the ground in a 28-13 win to improve to 4-0 within the AFC West.
The team with the league's third-best running game is still alive in the division race, two games behind Kansas City.
"If we just keep running the ball and doing what we do, then I think that's the Raiders,'' running back Michael Bush said. "We come out, pound you, pound you, pound you, throw the ball, then I think we'll get a lot accomplished.''
The Jaguars had the edge on the ground when these teams met Dec. 23, 2007 - Oakland's first trip to Jacksonville. Fred Taylor and Jones-Drew spearheaded a 201-yard rushing day in the Jaguars' 49-11 rout.
Even though the Jaguars and Raiders have only played four times - with Jacksonville winning three - there will be plenty of familiarity on the field Sunday. Oakland defensive tackle John Henderson, third on the Jaguars' all-time leading sack list with 29, returns to Jacksonville for the first time since his original team cut him in the offseason.
The teams were busy on draft weekend as well. The Jaguars dealt underperforming linebacker Quentin Groves to the Raiders and acquired linebacker Kirk Morrison from Oakland. The Raiders drafted Rolando McClain in the first round to replace Morrison.
Del Rio has other concerns besides stopping the run. The Raiders have five return touchdowns - including two kick returns from rookie Jacoby Ford, the fourth-round pick they received in exchange for Morrison.
"Running the ball and stopping the run are good things to do, but it goes beyond that," Del Rio said. "They have five miscellaneous touchdowns. We don't have any yet."
The Jaguars are 12-1 in the last two seasons when scoring more than 20 points.
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