It is no secret that the Las Vegas Raiders are going to need some help to reach their postseason goals. But, as far as head coach Jon Gruden goes, none of that matters. The final three games all have to be wins, starting Thursday with the Los Angeles Chargers. AFC west match-ups are always enticing, but coming down the stretch, knowing the Silver and Black have to win out, adds another element, so how can the Raiders finish the 2020 season strong?
1. Stand up to the adversity on defense
Following the departure of Paul Guenther, the Raiders’ defense has the opportunity to have a fresh voice in their ears, and a tough one at that. Rod Marinelli is an old school, hard-nosed coach, and one that will not accept half effort. Nevertheless, any change is tough. A coaching change on a short week is hard. A coaching change, on a short week, with four defensive starters out, sounds almost impossible. Clelin Ferrell, Nicholas Morrow, Johnathan Abram, Jeff Heath, and Damon Arnette are all out Thursday, it will take all 53 for the Raiders to win. Then again, Marinelli has said that he thrives on adversity, and there will be no shortage of it this week.
2. The Raiders must get the running game going
Rolling up to the 6-3 start, the Raiders were all gas, no breaks. Since then, it seems like they stepped on the brakes, and the run game has been hard to come by. That needs to change this week. Ball control plays an aspect in winning games for this Raiders team, which means getting the run game going. The Raiders have not rushed for over 100 yards since the Denver Broncos game in Week 10. The week prior, the offense went for 160 yards against the ‘Bolts’ they’re facing on Thursday Night Football. Josh Jacobs, and a healthier offensive line, should get a push and bully the Chargers’ front seven.
3. Score six in the red zone
The Silver and Black struggled to score last season and that problem has surfaced once again. In recent weeks, they have settled for three too much. Scoring six is going to be paramount this week, as another shootout could be possible. The Chargers are averaging 383 yards and 22.8 points per game. For comparison, the Raiders are averaging 369.3 yards and 26.9 points per contest. Points should not be hard to come by, but that makes scoring a touchdown over a field goal that much more important.
The final trio of games for the Raiders is going to be as pivotal as games as we’ve seen for the team this season. Finishing 10-6 would signal progress, even if they can’t make the playoffs. Progress is the name of the game for every team, every year, and that would be a step in the right direction. It all starts this week, and the Raiders need to stop their skid down the hill, starting this week, on prime time.
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