Raiders

D.J. Swearinger ready for Raiders opportunity thanks to fresh perspective

D.J. Swearinger ready for Raiders opportunity thanks to fresh perspective

ALAMEDA – D.J. Swearinger has worn the No. 36 forever, from his college days into his seventh NFL season. Players get attached to their number and the veteran safety was no different, especially after a decade-plus wearing the same digits.

It was available and given to him upon signing with the Raiders on Nov. 9, but he quickly requested a change.

Swearinger wanted No. 21 and got it. This wasn’t just a number switch. It was a symbolic attempt to start fresh with a new team after bouncing around the league more than he’d like.

“My grandmother was the first to suggest it. She said that I had reinvented myself over the last month I have been off [after getting cut by Arizona],” Swearinger said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “A few of my homeboys told me the same thing. After that, I talked to my parents about it and they agreed. The only number I felt like I could get into would be 21 because I grew up watching Sean Taylor and Deion Sanders as well. Those were the two guys who inspired me to get that number.”

Taylor, in particular, was a role model, an all-gas-no-brakes intimidator that Swearinger believes he can be when playing his best.

Swearinger had to find the proper mindset to find that level of play. That was his goal after the Cardinals cut him early this season. He didn’t rush to find a new gig. He went home to his family and did some soul searching, doing everything possible to get right and be ready for his next opportunity.

“It was different, but it was extremely helpful. I got to look at life from a different perspective,” Swearinger said. “I had a chance to get my mind, body and spirit right. I spent a lot of time with my family and I spent a lot of time reading. That’s something I haven’t done in the past, that I wanted to do. I picked up on a couple books that helped me, and I did some mental counseling as well.

“Being away from the game, I was trying to figure it out and help the man and the football player. It helped me a lot. I look at things from a different perspective now, and I think it will only help me and my future.”

[RELATED: Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' journey amid inactive stretch]

It’s clear from our conversation that Swearinger values this opportunity more than most. He loves working for Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, a coach he believes has the same insatiable desire to win above all else.

“I always wanted to play with a high-energy coach who has the same passion for the game that I have,’ Swearinger said. “It was a perfect fit for me.”

That’s clear after one game. He dove into the scheme – it helped that there were plenty of similarities between the Raiders and Cardinals systems – and was proficient enough to lead the team in tackles eight days later. He hasn’t reveled in that moment, choosing instead to delve deeper into the system while preparing to contribute to this Raiders playoff push. Swearing is hellbent on making the postseason, with a drive and hunger that, he says, some have found off-putting in previous stops. Swearinger believes he has found the proper mindset to help this team thrive.

“That has been the knock against me over the past few years,” Swearinger said. “I have been so hungry on each team that I’ve been on that I have been trying to change the culture in a sense, to be hungry and get the guys to be hungry to win. At the end of the day, a lot of guys play this game just for the money. I play this thing for the love of the game and to go to the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy one day, with my kids in my arms. That’s the vision and the focus.

“Sometimes, guys don’t see it the same way. In other places I have been, they didn’t see it that way. I think a lot of the guys here see it that way. They have that vision and desire to go deep in the playoffs and make a run. There’s something special here, with a special team and a special coach. We’re going to do our best to make that run.”

Raiders-Titans odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

Raiders-Titans odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

The Raiders badly need a win Sunday at home against the Titans.

But Vegas and several NFL experts aren't on Oakland's side.

Despite the game being played at the Coliseum, the Raiders are underdogs according to most oddsmakers.

With a win over the Titans, the Raiders will keep their slim playoff hopes alive. A loss gives Jon Gruden's team almost no chance of reaching the postseason.

[RELATED: Five Raiders to watch vs. Titans]

Line

Caesars: Titans -3 (-105)
Consensus: Titans -3 (-106)
Westgate: Titans -2.5 (-120)
Wynn: Titans -2.5 (-120)

Predictions

Paul Gutierrez, ESPN.com: Raiders 23, Titans 21
Turron Davenport, ESPN.com: Titans 24, Raiders 17
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Titans 27, Raiders 13
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Raiders 23, Titans 20
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Titans 27, Raiders 17

Raiders vs. Titans live stream: How to watch Week 14 NFL game online

Raiders vs. Titans live stream: How to watch Week 14 NFL game online

Each of the last four games of the season are important for the Raiders (6-6), but Sunday's clash with the Titans (7-5) is vital to keeping their playoff hopes alive.

If the Raiders lose Sunday, the final three games might not be as important.

At the moment, Oakland's postseason odds sit at 7 percent. A win boosts their odds to 15 percent, but a loss would give the Raiders just a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Entering Sunday's game at the Oakland Coliseum, the Titans hold the No. 7 seed in the AFC while the Raiders are No. 8, so the contest will have serious implications on the playoff race.

The Raiders' offense took a big hit Friday when star right tackle Trent Brown was ruled out due to a pectoral injury. On defense, Jon Gruden and Co. need to make sure they slow down Tennessee running back Derrick Henry in order to have a chance to win.

[RELATED: Five Raiders to watch vs. Titans]

Here's how to watch the Raiders-Titans Week 14 clash on TV and online:

Start time: Sunday, Dec. 8, at 1:25 p.m. PT
TV Channel: CBS
Live stream: fuboTV -- Get a free trial