The Oakland Raiders are about to find out whether their bye week is rest or rust when the Tennessee Titans visit the Oakland Coliseum Sunday.
A week off appeared to be the last thing the Raiders needed after combining to beat Seattle and Pittsburgh 61-34. Oakland, however, has been successful after open dates in recent history. The Raiders are 5-2 after bye weeks since moving back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995.
"We've had success because our preparation time is extended," Fullback Jon Ritchie said. "It's nice to have that extra time to get comfortable. Anytime you go out there, you plan on winning. Our coaches put us in a position to win."
There are a couple of things about Sunday's game that likely did not allow the Raiders' mind to get rusty. The Titans have beaten the Raiders three straight times and six of the last seven dating back to 1988 when they were the Houston Oilers.
Running back Eddie George's success against the Raiders is well documented. George rushed for 415 yards on 39 carries in two games against Oakland in 1997 and 1999. The kicking game problems, however, have been a big factor. In 1997, Tennessee beat Oakland 24-21 in overtime. Cole Ford missed a 46-yard field goal in the contest. While kicks of that length are more difficult, the game would not have gone into an extra period otherwise.
In 1999, the Titans beat Oakland 21-14 with Michael Husted missing a 32 yarder. That field goal would not have overcome the deficit but it proved to be a factor nonetheless. Last season, the Raiders held George to 23 yards on 11 carries but still lost 13-10. Three missed Sebastian Janikowski field goals (40, 32, 42) were a huge factor.