On the backs of the offense, the Las Vegas Raiders are coming off of a big win at home. A win is a win. Ignore the fact that it was against the lowly 1-4-1 Houston Texans. However, with the club still lagging in the AFC playoff race, they need to continue stacking wins as they head to New Orleans to take on Andy Dalton and Co. Here are three offensive X-factors that will help the Silver and Black to their second straight win.
Raiders vs. Saints: X-Factor No. 1 – Josh Jacobs
Let’s start with the obvious: Josh Jacobs is playing out of his mind. After 441 yards and six touchdowns in the last three games combined, Jacobs is beginning to emerge as the driving force of one of the league’s top offenses. The Raiders get another favorable matchup in Week 8 as they face a Saints defense ranked 22nd in rush yards allowed per game.
The Raiders’ ground game can be effective in more ways than one. Aside from elevating the red zone offense, it’s helped the Raiders get back to their bread and butter of clock control. Controlling the clock will be important against a New Orleans team currently ranked 11th in average time of possession. If Jacobs can help keep the defense off the field, the Silver and Black should cruise to another victory.
Raiders vs. Saints: X-Factor No. 2 – The Offensive Line
It’s time to give this unit their flowers. Behind every strong Jacobs performance is a run blocking unit that is improving by the week. Sure, Josh McDaniels continues to experiment with different lineups, with the starting unit playing only 19 percent of the snaps, but the group as a whole has provided the Raiders with the opportunities they require to win.
The Raiders drafted two solid rookies in Thayer Munford and Dylan Parham. While being mere third and seventh rounders, the pair have looked like pillars in the trenches. The line will have to hold their own against Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and a vicious Saints defensive front. This team can flip a switch if they continue mauling in the run game and give Carr the time he needs.
Raiders vs. Saints: X-Factor No. 3 – Derek Carr
The recent success of Jacobs and the Raiders’ ground game should not undermine Derek Carr’s role in the offense. While Carr’s role has shrunk (27 passing attempts in Week 7), his mistake-free play has allowed the Raiders offense to be dangerous across the board. It remains crucial that Davante Adams is involved in this offense, but Carr has found ways to spread the ball around. Whether it be Mack Hollins, Hunter Renfrow, or even Foster Moreau, everyone is stepping up. In the last three games, Carr has thrown for 670 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, Carr has completed over 60 percent of his passes with zero turnovers in all three games. The first ingredient to winning football is the turnover battle. Regardless of defensive performance, the Raiders can win if Carr stays mistake-free.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Kirk Irwin