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McGloin aims for solid sequel as Raiders entertain Titans

(SportsNetwork.com) - If the Tennessee Titans had their choice of destinations for a Week 12 road trip, they'd be calling for another go-round with the New York Jets.

Tennessee was 3-1 on the season after a 25-point thrashing of the Jets in late September and seemed ready for a season-long pursuit of an AFC wild card or divisional playoff berth.

The seven weeks since haven't been quite so successful.

Rather than hanging close in the postseason chase, the Titans proceeded to drop five of the subsequent six games surrounding a Week 8 bye - which leaves the needle pointing squarely at "desperation" as they pay a Sunday afternoon visit to Oakland to begin a three-game road swing.

Tennessee will face a significant challenge in the Raiders' conference-best rushing game, which has clicked to the tune of 160.7 yards over their last three games and has averaged 145.4 yards over 10 games.

Though No. 1 runner Darren McFadden is questionable with a hamstring injury, Oakland appears in even better stead with backup Rashad Jennings - who went for 150 yards last week against Houston and has run for 340 yards in three games. McFadden has been limited to just 98 carries in seven games, gaining just 352 yards and scoring four times.

The Titans have surrendered 15 rush TDs for the season - worst in the league - and has been gashed for 129.2 yards per game during the inglorious 1-5 stretch. Tennessee led 14-0 at halftime of a Week 11 game against visiting Indianapolis, then allowed 223 total yards in the second half on the way to a 30-27 loss.

"We as a defense, we got to get off the field," safety Bernard Pollard said. "We had guys in gaps, missed tackles No matter what's going on, we have to find a way to get off the field, and we didn't do that."

Pollard and Co. stand ninth in the conference and sit a game behind the Jets, who hold the final wild card playoff position entering the weekend. The Raiders share the same 4-6 record as the Titans, but hold a tiebreaker edge at the moment thanks to a better conference record (4-3 to 3-4).

Tennessee visits Indianapolis and Denver in weeks 13 and 14, then wraps the season with home games against Arizona and Houston, sandwiching a road trip to Jacksonville.

The Titans last reached the playoffs in 2008.

"All that matters now is this game on Sunday, so I think they need to focus in on that," coach Mike Munchak said. "They understand. The big picture is there. We all understand the situation we're in. We can't worry about what we didn't accomplish to this point. We can't get caught up in what it means if we don't accomplish what we want to accomplish.

"We just have to concentrate on this window."

Offensively, the Titans have gotten quality QB play from backup Ryan Fitzpatrick after starter Jake Locker went down with a season-ending foot injury. Fitzpatrick has completed better than 71 percent of his throws in his last two games for 486 yards and three TDs.

Running back Chris Johnson, who's averaged just 63.2 yards per game this season, went for 142 yards when he last faced the Raiders, in a 38-13 victory in Nashville in 2010.

Oakland is in search of consecutive quality efforts after a Week 11 defeat of Houston last week, in which novice quarterback Matt McGloin established a bit of NFL history.

The undrafted Penn State alumnus completed 18 of 32 passes for 197 yards, three TD passes and no interceptions in his inaugural start, making him just the fourth player with three scores and no INTs in a debut since 1970.

"He played flawless football, especially for this being his first start in the National Football League," safety Charles Woodson said. "He put the ball in there. He had some guys early on in the game that had some drops, but he put it right on the numbers and those are catches the guys have to make for him."

Regular starter Terrelle Pryor is questionable with a sprained knee and has struggled badly in his last four games, during which he's thrown one touchdown against eight interceptions while compiling a 44.2 passer rating and sustaining 18 sacks. In his first four starts, he posted a 97.6 rating with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

If he's ready to play Sunday, he'll nonetheless serve as McGloin's understudy.

"Our job as coaches is to try to do the things that we feel like give us the best opportunity to win," coach Dennis Allen said. "That's what those players in that locker room are looking for. Now, it's good to know that you have options. That's, obviously, a positive. I don't look at it as a tough situation. I look at it as a good situation."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Born to (stop the) run.

Frequently during the 1-5 skid, the Titans have fallen on hard times when it comes to stopping the run. That won't help against a team as well-versed in grinding on the ground as the Raiders are. Tennessee needs to find itself if the playoffs are to remain more than a faint hope.

Do it again, kid.

McGloin, the unheralded alum from Penn State, was a unanimous surprise in his initial NFL appearance, but now that he's on film he won't be able to sneak up on anyone. That'll make runners like Jennings and McFadden (if he's healthy) of significant importance in outing No. 2.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

It's not clear that either of these teams really belong among playoff competitors, but at the end of the day one of the two will have significantly upgraded its positioning. McGloin may not stun anyone with his arm this time, but he ought to get enough run help to get to 2-0 as a starter.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Raiders 20, Titans 17

11/22 09:28:04 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
1st OT
STL 3
CHI 3
 
2nd Intermission
COL 2
MIN 4
 
1st
SJS 2
LOS 0
 
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2