The Las Vegas Raiders have put themselves in a position where they have to win out to compete for a playoff spot. As far as Sunday’s matchup, it will have to start with bringing defensive pressure on the Indianapolis Colts.
By now, we should all be familiar with the morbid Raiders pass rush, and that’s putting it nicely. There are definitely some positive signs such as Maxx Crosby still grinding and Clelin Ferrell bringing constant pressure. Big picture, they still need to do more. Against the Colts, the Las Vegas defense will have to deal with long-time nemesis, quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers can still throw it deep, albeit inaccurately sometimes, but the Raiders defense is in no position to overlook the gunslinger. Remember, this is the same unit that allowed Jets quarterback Sam Darnold to look like a regular-season MVP.
Can The Raiders Get To Rivers?
The Silver and Black have actually done a solid job of keeping pressure on opposing quarterbacks, thanks largely to Ferrell. As far as the Colts, they’ve done their best to keep Rivers upright this season. When we look at 2020, Rivers have been sacked 18 times while being hit a total of 26 times. Rivers’ percentage of on-target throws per pass sits at 77.4 this season.
The men that will probably be tasked with protecting Rivers will be tackles Braden Smith and Anthony Castonzo who’s nursing a knee injury. It will be a tall order for both Crosby and Ferrell to go up against these two efficient tackles. Smith currently holds a 74.3 pass-blocking grade, he himself has not allowed a sack and is efficient with just three penalties against him.
On the other side, Castonzo has an 83.2 grade when it comes to protecting Rivers. The former first-round has only given up two sacks in 2020. No matter how you slice it, the Raiders will have their hands full with these two, can they rise to this momentous occasion?
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Noah K. Murray