Going into Week 15, the Las Vegas Raiders are faced with a must-win game against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers. To make the playoffs, they have to win out on the season and get some help from other teams. In Week 15, the Silver and Black will need some superb individual performances. Nevertheless, the Silver and Black will be short on the defensive side of the ball due to injuries. For them to win, these three players will need to shine.
1. Bryan Edwards is next in line
With Henry Ruggs III on the reserve/Covid list, the Raiders will have a void in their explosive offense. Nelson Agholor will be the primary wide receiver while Hunter Renfrow will provide a consistent and reliable option out of the slot. However, who is next up on the boundary opposite ‘Nelly’? Knowing head coach Jon Gruden’s affinity for substitutions, it’s likely to be a few different players rotating in. Nevertheless, third-round rookie Bryan Edwards is likely to get the first crack at it.
The South Carolina standout, a hot name in the preseason, has only hauled in eight receptions for 131 yards. He has fought his way back from an injury he sustained in Week 3 against the New England Patriots. Last week, he played on 29 percent of the team’s total snaps on offense. Edwards’ physicality should be a nice compliment to Agholor’s downfield speed.
2. Isaiah Johnson needs to have another big game
Rookie Damon Arnette is out with a concussion and Nevin Lawson is as questionable with an illness, so sophomore Isaiah Johnson will be the next man up after recently receiving clearance from a groin injury. He made a game-winning pass breakup in Week 9 and will look to repeat the feat on Thursday Night Football.
The Chargers are sure to test him with their talented receiving core in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Tyron Johnson. The team’s brass was excited about the chance to develop Johnson’s raw ability when they took him in 2019’s draft. Now they will get a chance to see how far he has come in a big spot against top competition.
3. The Raiders defensive line will be without Clelin Ferrell
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell is out with a shoulder injury. This leaves any of the three defensive ends to fill in a massive spot on the Guenther-less defense. Vic Beasley will be playing his second game with the team. He had a rough showing against the Indianapolis Colts, so Raiders surely hope this was merely a one-time thing.
Hard Knock’s star Carl Nassib joined the Raiders this offseason with the plan of bringing a needed jolt to a weak pass rush. instead, However, he has been a healthy scratch the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Arden Key has underwhelmed but shown flashes. With eight quarterback hits on the year but no sacks, the hope is Marinelli can unlock Key’s obvious potential.
With such a long injury list and a division rival on a short week, the Raiders have a tough matchup ahead. To beat the ‘Bolts’, they will have to weather the storm of rookie Justin Herbert and his weapons as the defense adjusts to a new play-caller. Expect the offense to get involved in a shoot out if the Raiders are going to keep it close and the aforementioned defensive players to have a big hand in whether that group has a good showing.
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