It is a battle of 3-4 teams this afternoon in Tampa when the Buccaneers host the Raiders. While Oakland is just a game behind division-leading Denver, Tampa Bay sits four wins off the pace of Atlanta in the NFC South and needs a victory to call themselves a playoff contender.
After starting the season 1-4, the Raiders have won back-to-back games. Oakland forced four Chief turnovers in a wire-to-wire 26-16 win last week in Kansas City. After going 5-3 on the road last season, the win over the Chiefs was the first away from Northern California in four tries for the Silver and Black this year
Tampa Bay returns to action after their upset win in Minnesota 10 days ago. Rookie RB Doug Martin accounted for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the victory while the Bucs defense forced three Vikings turnovers.
After averaging more than five yards per rush each of the last two seasons, Darren McFadden is off to a slow start. The 25-year-old back has been under three yards per rush in five of seven games this year and as a team Oakland ranks 30th in the league in rushing offense.
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If McFadden can't get it going this week, there should be opportunity for Carson Palmer in the passing game. The Bucs secondary has been thrashed for 310 yards per game, second worst in the NFL. Palmer has thrown for more than one touchdown only twice this year but has minimized mistakes by throwing only five interceptions and no more than one in any single game.
Tampa Bay WR Vincent Jackson is ninth in the NFL with 626 receiving yards and his five touchdowns place him behind only Green Bay's James Jones, the Bengals AJ Green, and New York Giant Victor Cruz among wideouts. Last week Minnesota focused their entire defensive game plan around stopping Jackson and that enabled Martin and WR Mike Williams to catch a combined nine passes for 147 yards and two scores. The Raiders pass defense ranks 20th in the league.
Buccaneer QB Josh Freeman has thrown just one interception in three wins thus far In Tampa losses Freeman has been picked off four times. Gone are the days of Nnamdi Asomugha in Oakland. The Raider defense has just five INT's in seven games.
Oakland has won six of seven meetings with Tampa Bay. The Bucs lone win came in Super Bowl XXXVII.