Coming off a mini “Miracle at the Meadowlands”, the Las Vegas Raiders are still very much alive in the AFC playoff race. Sitting at 7-5, they are currently eighth in the conference but they can gain some ground today. They will face the 8-4 Colts, who currently hold the seventh seed, so this game will definitely have playoff implications.
A win today would propel the Raiders into a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Colts would have to fight their way back into the picture. However, if this Las Vegas team loses Sunday, they will no longer control their path to the playoffs. Really, there should be no excuse as to why the Raiders shouldn’t come out firing on all cylinders. For this to happen, we need these Raiders to step up.
1. The Raiders will go as far as Derek Carr takes them
Placing Derek Carr here is no knock on his play in 2020. Outside of a few blemishes, he has been fantastic this year; including last week’s signature “Mamba Moment” with his clutch game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. He’s only on this list because this team lives and dies by his performances.
Keep in mind the Colts might not let tight end Darren Waller run free as he did against the Jets. Therefore, Carr must rely on guys like Henry Ruggs III or Nelson Agholor. The Raiders quarterback should come out and have a phenomenal day. Having his usual commanding presence at the line of scrimmage, as well as making decisive reads will be keys to Carr’s success Sunday. Will there be another Mamba-Esque showing from Carr?
2. Trent Brown has to play and perform at a high level
Trent Brown earned the questionable designation in the team’s last Injury Report. Regardless of his status, Trent should be able to suit up for the first time since Week 5. Even though taking the field will be a huge step for Trent, the Raiders need more than just his presence, they need his dominance.
Stopping the Colts front seven will be no easy task, that’s why the Raiders right tackle’s performance will be key in Week 14. Yet, the Raider’s will be counting on their $21.5 million investment to pay off, once again. Whenever Brown has taken the field this season, he has played at a high level.
3. These pair of defensive ends have to shine in Week 14
After an impressive performance at Metlife stadium, Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, also known as “Salt N’ Pepper”, will look to build on their recent success. Ferrell, returning from the COVID-19/reserve list, had a career game versus the Jets. Forcing two turnovers on two sacks, it is safe to say ‘Cle’ was a man on a mission in his first game back.
Crosby, who is the Raiders’ current sack leader, has been a consistent producer along the defensive line. For the team to win Sunday, they will need to rely on this second-year duo to produce and keep their old friend, Philip Rivers, uncomfortable. Ferrell and Crosby will both log a sack and keep Rivers from setting up and dealing from the pocket. Count on “Salt N’ Pepper” to lock in and lock onto their archrival.
Prediction: 30-26 Raiders
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(Top Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)