Currently sitting in second place in the AFC West thanks to a 5-3 records, the playoffs are a possibility for the Las Vegas Raiders. To become a reality, it will have to be the offense that gets them there, in particular the passing game.
Led by head coach Jon Gruden, this current Raiders team is riding on the backs of its offensive unit. Let’s face it, the defense has been putrid, and to think it will become elite overnight is not realistic. There’s no doubt Paul Guenther’s defense will need addressing in the offseason, assuming he’s still the defensive coordinator in 2021. As far as the offense, quarterback Derek Carr is playing at a high level, maybe even MVP-level. He’s not the best quarterback per se, but, to this team, he’s the most valuable player. Is that not what an MVP is?
The Raiders by the numbers
Protecting Carr has been essentially a makeshift offensive line given the number of injuries it has sustained. Offensive line coach Tom Cable deserves credit though, this unit hasn’t had a dropoff in spite of the injury bug. So far he’s been sacked 14 times but he’s still averaging 2.4 seconds of pocket time compared to 2.5 last year. In fact, the percentage of times pressured per dropback has decreased, from 20.3 to 17.8 this season. This, in turn, has allowed Carr to maintain an 80.5% of on-target throws per pass attempt. He has already thrown for 16 touchdown passes so he should be able to eclipse last year’s total of 21.
Week 11 will be key for the Silver and Black
Sunday’s matchup will be instrumental in establishing this Raiders team is for real or not. Guess what? It will start and end with the offense, and Carr leading the way. Recently, Pro Football Focus spotlighted the Silver and Black’s offense heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Denver Broncos.
“His [Carr] 66% accurate pass rate this season ranks tied for second in the NFL, behind only Drew Brees. Denver will hope cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan are back for this game, but even with those two playing, it projects as a difficult matchup for the defense. The Raiders will look to ride their offense to a win and a 6-3 record — putting them firmly in the AFC playoff picture.”
Carr and the Silver and Black cannot overlook the Broncos even if they appear to be an easy matchup defensively. These are the games that teams vying for a playoff spot need to win, will this resurgent Raiders team deliver that sixth win that will put them into the playoff contender talk?
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*Top Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images