Raiders: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 12

Michael WagamanContributor INovember 19, 2013

Nov 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (14) throws a pass against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Texans 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Having won on the road for the first time this season and ending their two-game losing streak in the process, the Oakland Raiders encounter a whole new hurdle in preparation for their game against the Tennessee Titans.

The issue at hand for coach Dennis Allen and his staff is whether to let Matt McGloin have another start or to turn the offense back over to Terrelle Pryor, provided, of course, Pryor is healthy.

If that’s not a quarterback controversy, it’s as close to one as you can get.

There are a few other things on Allen’s plate this week.  The wide receivers are still having problems holding onto the ball, the offensive line is battered and the defense continues to have trouble handling the no-huddle.

Here are some of the top items to consider heading into Week 12.

Injury report
QB Terrelle PryorKneeRB Darren McFaddenHamstring
WR Andre HolmesShoulderWR Denarius MooreShoulder
RG Mike BrisielKneeDE Jason HunterFoot
DT Daniel MuirFoot
Raiders coach Dennis Allen

Pryor took last week off to rest his swollen right knee. The hope is that the additional rest will expedite getting him back on the field, but after the way Matt McGloin played against Houston, the Raiders might be tempted to have Pryor sit out one more week. McFadden hasn’t shown much progress with his hamstring injury and will be questionable to play.

As for the newcomers on the list, the Raiders caught a big break when an MRI test on right guard Mike Brisiel’s injured knee came back negative and expectations are that he will be back able to practice this week. The other four (Holmes, Moore, Hunter and Muir) also underwent MRI tests Monday but the results were not immediately available.

AFC West
Denver Broncos9-1--398255
Kansas City Chiefs9-1--232138
Oakland Raiders4-65194246
San Diego Chargers4-65228222

The Broncos did what no other team, including the Raiders, had been able to do when they beat the Chiefs and ended their perfect 9-0 start. Now the two teams are tied atop the division standings, with a rematch at Arrowhead Stadium right around the corner in Week 13.

Oakland’s win over Houston, coupled with the Chargers’ loss to Miami, moved the Raiders out of the division cellar based on tiebreakers. San Diego could have enhanced its playoff hopes with a win but was held without a touchdown over the final three quarters against the Dolphins.

What needs to improve

* The Raiders played about as well as they could have against the Texans, with one major exception. For the seventh time in 10 games, Oakland was flagged for at least eight penalties and is on pace to easily surpass last year’s total of 108.

Dennis Allen and his staff took great pride in getting a handle on the problem in 2012 but it’s becoming an issue again this year.

It’s not just the high volume of penalties. On several occasions they have come at critical junctures and wiped out big plays or put the offense in difficult predicaments.

If they have any hope of being successful over the final six weeks, this problem has to get corrected.

* No matter who starts at quarterback on Sunday, the wide receivers have to do a better job of hanging onto the ball. Both Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin have suffered from the inconsistency and drops by the receivers, though fullback Marcel Reece also let a pass slip through his hands during Sunday’s win in Houston.

Neither quarterback is developed yet to the point where a drop here or there won’t make much of a difference, so it’s imperative their teammates do a better job when the ball is thrown their way.

* Oakland’s special teams have been far too erratic, particularly kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

The Polish Cannon has already missed more kicks than he did in either of the last two seasons, and it’s more than just adjusting to a new holder. At times his kicks have been wide left, at others, wide right.  He's also come up short, which is rare for Janikowski.  

There’s also been a problem with Oakland’s coverage units. Houston’s Keshawn Martin had a punt bounce off the turf, hit him in the facemask and then fall back to the ground before he picked it up and raced 87 yards for a touchdown. The ball took a fortunate hop for Martin but the Raiders had plenty of opportunities to bring him down. They just failed to do it.

 * All information and quotes used in this and any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.