Raiders

Raiders Prepare For Final Push in Season Finale

This past Sunday, the Oakland Raiders completed a two-game season sweep of the Los Angeles Chargers after being in the opposite end the year before. They have the potential to pull another season series sweep against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Also, a potential playoff berth is still at stake in the final game of the season for the Silver and Black.

A Dose of Reality

The existential factors of the Raiders making the playoffs are dominating headlines. While saying ‘what if’ about other teams may be fun to some, there is a critical factor to any outside scenario being played out. The Raiders must win at Mile High Stadium before anything else occurs. That feat has not been accomplished since this specific 2015 incident:

The temperature of that game was roughly what it is predicted to be in this upcoming matchup, 45 degrees. Derek Carr struggled with accuracy, completed 12 out of 29 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. A once in a lifetime performance from now-Bears defensive end Khalil Mack spurred the Raiders to a 15-12 victory. In the next three losses since then, the Raiders have been outscored by the Broncos 60-35. With a potential playoff birth looming, the Raiders offense needs to assemble their best performance of the season.

Related: Raiders care about winning not draft position

Speaking of Derek Carr

The quarterback’s name has been one of the most polarizing in the NFL this season. Carr has been efficient in both Oakland and Los Angeles since Week 11, boasting an incredible 76.9 completion percentage. Moreover, he has accounted for seven touchdowns and one turnover. two of those scores being of the rushing variety.

Carr’s numbers at home have been electrifying, but his numbers on the road are, simply put, egregious. Since Week 11, his completion percentage has dropped dropped to 61.1 away from home. Carr has accounted for one touchdown and three interceptions, two of those resulted in defensive touchdowns.

Plays such as this, make you wonder, what is going through Carr’s mind?

There are valid points to both sides of the Carr debate, he looks downright elite at times when he plays at home. However, there is a clear reduction in production when Carr travels to their opponents stadiums with inclement or chilly weather under 50 degrees. Mile High on Sunday will prove to be yet another test of the cold for Carr.

The Broncos Resurgence

This Sunday will be cold in Denver, but the Broncos are coming in hot as winners of three out of their last four games. Their late season resurgence is due in part to rookie Drew Lock, who spent the first 12 weeks of the regular season on injured reserve. The 2019 second round pick suffered a thumb injury on his throwing hand in the third week of preseason, which placed his rookie season in doubt. Nonetheless, since being activated on November 30th, Lock has carried the team from a 3-8 record to 6-9 heading into the final week of the season. An inspiring three touchdown performance in his first career road start against Texans put the league on notice. The Raiders defense needs to attack a struggling offensive line and put the pressure on Lock if they want to be victorious.

We Are in the Endgame Now, No More Excuses

Oakland is ending the regular season against a divisional opponent that has been playing exceptionally well as of late. While the Raiders defense and special teams have been making strides, it is time for the Gruden led offense, which has nothing left to hold back in the final week of the regular season, to be aggressive. The time for excuses is over. Every NFL team is going through these situations that head coach Gruden and Carr have alluded to in press conferences:

  1. Injuries
  2. Travel fatigue
  3. Tougher competition
  4. Abysmal referees

Now is time for the 2019 Oakland Raiders to put on their big boy pants and it starts at the top with the coaching staff and designated team captains. The ‘bottom’ in the rookie class has shown up and battled every week to put this team in a position to where they can still potentially make the playoffs after losing four straight games. Rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow suffered a punctured lung and easily could have said ‘I don’t want to risk it by coming back this season’ but he did, and he had the best game of his career against the Chargers. He accounted for 107 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Running back Josh Jacobs, has been playing with a fractured shoulder since Week 7, and has come out and indirectly stated that he would be playing in the final game of the season. The potential Offensive Rookie of the Year was beyond frustrated when he could not play in the game against the Titans. His passion for the organization speaks for itself.

Clelin Ferrell has been under heavy criticism all season long for not ‘producing’ enough as the fourth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Since Week 12, the rookie has been one of the NFL’s premier edge run defenders per Pro Football Focus. Clelin has rarely spoken to the media, but hasn’t given an excuse when given the opportunity.

Maxx Crosby, has been subjected to abhorrent penalty calls and even worse non-holding calls. On top of that, he’s been fined approximately $75,000 for petty infractions such as these.

He is two sacks away from tying the Raiders rookie sack record of 10.5 set by Greg Townsend (1983) and Anthony Smith (1991). Yet, you do not hear criticism of officiating from the Eastern Michigan standout.
The Raiders first-year players have shown up and performed admirably. They have ultimately been the backbone to the team’s success. It is time for the individuals that make top dollar in the organization to show a sense of urgency, aggressiveness, and fervor to do whatever it takes to claim victory in Denver. Oakland has one final stage to lay it all on the line and hopefully, every Raiders player on the sideline is on their A+ game.

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