It’s been touted as the worst prime-time matchup in NFL history.
When the 1-7 San Francisco 49ers host the 1-6 Raiders at Levi’s Stadium Thursday night, it will be a matchup of teams with a combined winning percentage of .133. According to the analytic website Pro Football Focus, that’s the worst combined winning percentage of any of the 784 prime-time televised games in the league ever for a game played on Nov. 1 or later.
Still, that doesn’t make it a meaningless game.
The loser – actually the winner? – Thursday night will take another big step toward the bottom of the overall NFL standings, to get in position for having the possible No. 1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL draft. The 49ers are tied with the New York Giants for the worst record in the league, with the Raiders the only other one-victory team.
Whatever teams wins the race to the bottom could be in line to pick Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa, considered by many the best prospect to come out after this season – and both the Raiders and 49ers are in desperate need of pass-rush help.
Of course, while ratings could be tiny across the rest of the country, viewers in the Bay Area certainly will have interest. Raiders fans would love to see Levi’s Stadium covered in silver and black and to give their cross-Bay rivals a good beating. Niners fans hope their team can send their NFL neighbor back to Oakland with another loss before the Raiders exit for Las Vegas.
San Francisco may have to go with quarterback Nick Mullens Thursday night because of a wrist injury to C.J. Beathard. Beathard hasn’t been able to grip a football this week, but a decision won’t be made until game time. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week he believes Mullens, who’s never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game, will be ready if needed.
Oakland, meanwhile, hopes to continue its offensive growth after a good outing by QB Derek Carr and the offensive line in a loss last week. Carr had a 136.6 quarterback rating in the loss to Indianapolis, the third-best mark of his career, after throwing for three TDs with no interceptions while not being sacked a single time.
Though Thursday night’s matchup is historically bad as a prime-time matchup, it’s possible it could be surpassed very soon.
San Francisco’s next game after this one is Monday night, Nov. 12, vs. the Giants. The Giants have a bye this week, so if the 49ers lose Thursday night to the Raiders, their combined record would be 2-15 and their winning percentage would be .118.
Thursday night’s 49ers-Raiders matchup is set to kick off at 5:20.