Only two weeks remain in what was a hopeful 2020 season for the Las Vegas Raiders, and although the playoffs are all but out of reach, a winning season, and progress, are within their grasp, but, so is dismay.
They can finish anywhere between 7-9 and 9-7 at this point, and for Raider Nation, only one is acceptable. And with a primetime match up on Saturday Night, the Raiders can look to finish strong. Going against the 26th rated offense, these three Raiders defenders have to shine in Week 16.
1. Raekwon McMillan needs to help the Raiders stop the run
Facing his former team, Raekwon will have his opportunities to see the field in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Injuries continue to plague head coach Jon Gruden’s defense, but the ‘next man up’ mentality has been one that has prevailed since he took control of the team. Raekwon is a former Dolphin, and with former Raider Lynn Bowden Jr. coming into his own, Raekwon will have to show what his former team let go. However, the Dolphins are barely rushing for over 100 yards a game, so the Raiders need to keen in on the run game. Raekwon can lead that push.
2. Cory Littleton’s coverage skills will be tested
Although this season has been one to forget for Littleton, he has a chance to show his worth. With Tua Tagovailoa being the runner he is, and a tight end corps that can burn just about anybody, Littleton will be in the spotlight. Mike Gesicki has emerged as a stud at the tight end spot, and coverage is traditionally Cory’s strength. Although he has struggled this season, it would be a great time for him to show that he is worth his three-year contract with his coverage skills. Gesicki has the fith most receptions amongst tight ends this year, so ’42’ will be tested.
3. Mad Maxx Crosby needs to get back on track and wreak havoc
It has been too long since we said his name. The Dolphins have a bottom tier offensive line, but a mobile quarterback. ‘Mad Maxx’ should have a field day, both in the run and pass game. Mad Maxx has been in quite a slump, as he has not had a sack since Week 10 against the Denver Broncos. Pressuring Tua Tagovailoa will be vital to the Raiders success this week. Mad Maxx should tee off on this advantage. Also, if the pass rush is prominent, it should make ‘Tua’ scramble and create plays, and for a rookie, it is always tough to create something that is not there. Pressuring the rookie will be the difference between a win and a loss for the Silver and Black.
Another primetime game will have the Raiders hoping to have their playoff hopes alive. A loss will have the Raider Nation looking to draft simulations, as well as quarterback “controversies”. A win will start to give those that bleed for the Nation hope. And as much as we’ve seen enough of the struggle the Raiders have gone through, valid hope is always welcomed. The Dolphins on primetime would be a great place to start.
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Top Photo: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press