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Third Downs Will Be a Factor
Third-down conversion percentage is usually one of the more telling statistics in a football game. It's not as important as turnovers, but the team that's able to extend drives will obviously have more success against a tired defense, especially late in games.
Weakness vs. Weakness: Both the Raiders offense and Jaguars defense have struggled in third-down situations as Oakland has converted on just 34 percent of their opportunities (26th in the NFL) and the Jacksonville defense has allowed teams to convert on 42 percent of their opportunities (27th in the NFL).
Strength vs. Strength: The Jaguars offense is converting on 42 percent of their third downs (12th in the NFL) while Oakland is one the stingiest teams in the NFL, allowing opponents to convert on just 35 percent of their opportunities (8th in the NFL).
As much as Jack Del Rio and everyone on the Jaguars would like a victory this weekend, it likely won't matter in the grand scheme of the playoff race. Although mathematically possible, it's very doubtful that a six-loss AFC South team will make the playoffs as a Wildcard, so the only road to the playoffs is to win the division.
With Indianapolis' 30-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans Thursday night, the Jaguars will need to win at Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday to secure a division title. If the Jaguars win this Sunday at Oakland, a victory over Indianapolis will clinch their first ever AFC South title.
If the Jaguars win against Oakland but lose at Indianapolis, they will no longer control their own destiny as they will still need the Colts to lose another game to win the division. A loss against Oakland likely won't affect the team much as a victory over Indianapolis would give the team a one-game advantage and ownership of the all-important tie break.
Crossing Paths Again
Sunday's Raiders-Jaguars game will have a sense of familiarity as Oakland will bring former Jaguars John Henderson and Quentin Groves back to the team's that drafted them. Jacksonville linebacker Kirk Morrison was also Oakland's leading tackler for the last five seasons before being traded to the Jags on draft day.
Whereas Morrison isn't publicly speaking about the feelings of his departure from "The Black Hole," John Henderson had a few noteworthy comments earlier in the week.
"It's going to feel good to go and whip somebody's you know what," Henderson told the San Francisco Chronicle this week.
"I hope he goes and puts it on his bulletin board, too. ... They better bring it. That's all I gotta say. Put that on the bulletin board, too."
Another less publicized reunion will be with Raiders head coach Tom Cable and Jaguars stars Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis. Cable was part of the coaching staff at UCLA when Jacksonville's first two picks of the 2006 were there.
"I had Maurice in college so I'm very familiar with him," the embattled Raiders head coach said. "He's a very special football player, always has been."
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