While the Las Vegas Raiders offense continues to be on fire in 2020, the team’s playoff hopes will lie with its defense. This will surely be alarming news for Raider Nation and head coach Jon Gruden himself.
Led by quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders’ offense was able to match the Kansas City Chiefs blow to blow. It was quite the sight, the Silver and Black’s offense is quickly reaching elite status, if it hasn’t already. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough against the Super Bowl champions, as the defense faltered once again. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes sliced up the Raiders pass defense, something that Raider Nation is accustomed to.
Whether fans are accustomed or not, the concern lies deeper than that. As strong as the offense is under Gruden and Carr, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s unit could be the Raiders’ downfall.
Will The Raiders Be Able To Make Stops When It Counts?
Many fans feel that this upcoming stretch of games should be ‘easy,’ but that’s far from the truth. The Raiders will be facing the potent Atlanta Falcons passing game led by quarterback Matt Ryan. The Indianapolis Colts have Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have Justin Herbert, both capable of airing it out.
Let’s not forget that the Raiders barely defeated the Herbert-led Chargers. Also, Rivers is no stranger to the Silver and Black himself. The Miami Dolphins themselves are 6-4, and won’t be a cakewalk with or without Tua Tagovailoa. The only game remaining on the schedule that should be a breeze might be against the 0-10 New York Jets.
While some of those games should be blowouts for the Raiders, they won’t be because the defense just isn’t there yet. Fans won’t want to hear this but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this defense keeps the team out of the playoffs. The pass defense has already given up 2,797 yards through the air and has surrendered 16 passing touchdowns. the average completion percentage for opposing quarterbacks versus this Raiders defense currently sits at 63.4 per Pro Football Reference.
For the Raiders to get through this schedule and hopefully clinch a playoff spot, they’ll need to do two things. First, the offense will have to drop 30-plus points every game, and second, the defense will need to make at least two to three stops at the end of games. They couldn’t do it last Sunday versus the Kansas City Chiefs, so it’s fair to wonder if they can do it against the aforementioned teams?
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*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images