The San Francisco 49ers are coming off the most embarrassing home loss in recent memory and travelling across the bay to take on the Oakland Raiders. The 49ers playoff hopes are hanging by a thread as a result of their 19-3 loss on Thanksgiving night to Seattle, a loss which has hung around a few extra days as a result of playing on a Thursday night, and was punctuated by the owner sending out a tweet about the poor performance in the late stages of the game which only served to fuel speculation around the future of the coaching staff.
On the other side of this matchup, the Oakland Raiders come into this game on the heels of a 52-0 whitewashing at the hands of the St Louis Rams. Nothing has seemed to go right for Oakland this season, but their lone win over Kansas City came at home under circumstances similar to today's game. Kansas City has an offense that is struggling to move the ball through the air and found themselves against a team looking to not be embarrassed in prime time.
With that as a backdrop here are 5 burning questions to which the answers will be key to the outcome of the game.
1) Can Colin Kaepernick bounce back? - Kaepernick had one of the worst games of his career last week against Seattle, and past history shows that he will struggle again today. A season ago Kaepernick followed up poor performances in losses to Seattle and Carolina with poor performances the following week and he has done the same thing again this season.
2) Can the 49ers get the running game going? - The 49ers have seen their yards per rush attempt drop from 4.2 yards per carry to 3.6 yards per carry in the five games since Daniel Kilgore was lost to injury for the season. With Kaepernick struggling, the offense needs to get back the ground game working.
3) Which wide receiver will step up? - A week ago the 49ers wide receivers finished with a combined total of 8 receptions for 62 yards. Those numbers look even worse when you factor in that the highest total, 28 yards from Stevie Johnson, were mostly in garbage time.
4) Can the offensive line protect Kaepernick? - The 49ers offensive line has given up 38 sacks this season which puts them behind only Jacksonville, Washington and the New York Jets in that category. They may catch a bit of a break today because the Raiders defense is last in the league with only 13 sacks on the season.
5) Can the 49ers defense force Derek Carr to beat them? - The Raiders ground game has been almost non-existent this season. They come into this game averaging 3.7 yards per attempt on the ground, a number that is helped out by Latavius Murray's 90 yard run against Kansas City.
The last time the 49ers were in this type of situation they allowed Washington to average 5.0 yards per carry which allowed them to hang around in the game despite holding Robert Griffin III to only 106 yards passing on the day.
Prediction: 49ers 16 Raiders 3
The feeling going into this game is that the first team to score a touchdown will win, and since the 49ers have shown the ability to score touchdowns on their first drive at a high rate this season I'm giving them the nod.