The Oakland Raiders come into Dallas riding high off their comeback win against the Cincinnati Bengals. Bruce Gradkowski is now the starting quarterback for the Raiders and played efficiently last week (17-for-34, 183 yards, two TDs and one INT)
This week Gradkowski will try to play better than the last time he faced the Cowboys. In 2006 as the QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Gradkowski went 10-for-20 for 120 yards and 2 INTs in a 38-10 loss on Thanksgiving Day.
The Raiders receivers haven't gotten many opportunities this year and their numbers show it. They're dead last in passing offense averaging 125 passing YPG. Tight end Zach Miller leads the team in receptions (34), yards (495) and TDs (2). The Raiders best wide receiver is Louis Murphy who has 17 receptions for 261 yards and two TDs. Rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey (seven receptions, 103 yards) hasn't done much this season, only catching a pass in six games this season and hasn't had more than two receptions in a single game.
The Raiders running game ranks 20th in the NFL. Michael Bush is second on the team in attempts (81) and leads the team in yards (377) and also has two TDs. Justin Fargas is the team's second leading rusher with 336 yards on 90 carries and two TDs. Darren McFadden (57 carries, 182 yards and one TD) hasn't had the season the Raiders thought he would as he's battled injuries.
The Raiders defense has been on the field too long, ranking fourth in the league in plays from scrimmage with 669 plays. Oakland's front seven can generate some pressure as former Cowboy Greg Ellis (5) and Richard Seymour (4) have combined for nine sacks this season. Linebacker Kirk Morrison leads the team in tackles with 84 and has five for a loss.
The Raiders secondary ranks 12th in the league, giving up 207.5 YPG. Chris Johnson leads the secondary with 49 tackles and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions and has 12 passes defended. Nnamdi Asomugah was a pro bowler last season and is having another good season. Safety Michael Huff is also having a good season with three interceptions and nine passes defended.
Tony Romo will try to revive a Cowboys offense that has scored just two TDs in their last two games. Even though Romo still has a sore back, he's expected to start this week.
However he could be without his best friend, tight end Jason Witten who will be a game time decision with a sprained foot. Witten leads the team in receptions with 54 for 481 yards and one TD. If Witten can't go then Martellus Bennett will take his place.
Romo will still have Miles Austin to throw to. Austin hit his stride late in last week's game and finished with a team high 47 yards on four receptions. Roy Williams had no catches last week and he'll need to make an impact if Witten is out. In last year's Turkey Day game Williams had two catches for 51 yards.
The Cowboys running game seems to be back on track and should take advantage of the Oakland's 30th ranked rushing defense. Last week against the Redskins the Cowboys ran the ball 31 times for 149 yards. Marion Barber was the high man with 20 carries for 99 yards, Felix Jones ran the ball 10 times for 49 yards and Tashard Choice ran the ball once for one yard.
The Cowboys defense is still riding high after holding the Redskins to just six points, and they'll be looking to take Gradkowski down a few times. Keith Brooking (73 tackles, three sacks) and DeMarcus Ware (39 tackles, seven sacks) lead the seventh ranked rushing defense in the NFL. The Cowboys also rank eighth in the league with 25 sacks this season.
The Cowboys secondary also played well last week. Corners Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have combined this season for 26 passes defended and five interceptions. Safety Alan Ball played great last week in place of Ken Hamlin who's still out with an ankle injury. They also got help from linebacker Anthony Spencer who recorded an interception to put last week's game away.
The Cowboys need to come out and make an impact early to kill Oakland's hopes of pulling out a win—the longer the Cowboys keep the Raiders in the game, the more the momentum shifts to silver and black. They also need to get to Gradkowski, something the Bengals didn't do last week. The Raiders will definitely make this game interesting but the Cowboys will keep their three game Thanksgiving Day winning streak alive. Cowboys 24-17.