In a pivotal matchup on Thanksgiving, the Las Vegas Raiders will go to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Typically one of the league’s most potent offenses, they will be without some key pieces.
An Old Friend Won’t Be Playing
In 2018, the then-Oakland Raiders made two of the most infamous trades in recent NFL history. The first was sending Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears, whom they have faced off with twice since. The second was wide receiver Amari Cooper for a first-round pick. This selection would soon become safety Johnathan Abram. Quickly, it was evident that the Raiders had lost this trade as Cooper has recorded 3,646 yards during his time with “America’s Team.” Coincidentally, this game was scheduled to be the first time Cooper has faced off against the team that traded him years ago.
However, Cooper, who is unvaccinated, was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list late last week, causing him to miss last week’s game as well as this one. This is no doubt disappointing for the former Alabama star, as he was likely looking for some revenge against his former team. For football fans in general, this would have been tremendous theater.
Another Former Fan Favorite Is Questionable
Rewind back to the 2020 NFL draft, where the Raiders were in dire need of a playmaker at wide receiver. Ultimately, they decided on Henry Ruggs III, but many fans were lobbying for Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. This was for good reason, as Lamb had over 3,200 yards in his three-year career and was an All-American in 2019. This excellence has carried over to the NFL as well, with 1,675 yards in his first 26 games. Of course, the draft is mostly in the rearview for Lamb as he focuses on building an NFL career. However, many athletes use their draft slot as motivation, and getting to face a team that passed on him would likely appeal to the young star.
Alas, Lamb may not get that chance in this game. After suffering a concussion in Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, he is questionable to play. While a return in a short week could happen, it is fair to expect him to be at less than full strength.
The Las Vegas Defense Should Fare Well
This year, the Raiders’ defense is allowing the sixth fewest passing yards in the league. This is mostly due to the pass-rushing duo of Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue, elite play from cornerback Casey Hayward, and some nice play from young guys like Nate Hobbs and Trevon Moehrig. The good news for the Raiders is that all of those players will be ready to go against a weakened Cowboys offense. Of course, Dallas has stars all over their offense who are likely to play well regardless. As such, if the Raiders are able to just get a few stops, it could be the difference between the Raiders taking home a victory in a must-win game.
*Top Photo: Mark LoMoglio/AP