In Week 15 of the NFL season, the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders square off for the 37th time. However, it will be the first time they face off at Allegiant Stadium. Due to the strengths of the two teams, this clash is intriguing. While the Patriots’ defense is their strong suit, the Raiders’ offense is theirs. The Raiders offense will struggle against a defense coached by Bill Belichick. In light of this, let’s examine three offensive Raiders players who must perform well to help the Raiders defeat the Patriots.
Raiders’ X-Factor No. 1 – Derek Carr
Good ole’ number 4. Let’s be transparent: Carr needs to improve. He had his worst performance of the season against the Los Angeles Rams. Carr just flat out let the Raiders down. But he needs to forget about that performance and play his best against the formidable Patriots defense. Raheem Morris’ behavior last week caused him some trouble, so he best be prepared for Belichick’s antics.
Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are expected to return for this game, which is fortunate for Carr because he will likely have access to all of his weapons. And Carr will need them since the Patriots defense will be paying close attention to his top wide receiver, Davante Adams. We are aware that Carr falters under pressure, and sadly for him, StatMuse ranks the Patriots third in sacks. Will Carr respond to the challenges he is facing? The “captain” of the Raiders’ offense must play like a leader to get this offense going.
Raiders’ X-Factor No. 2 – Jakob Johnson
One of the Raiders’ offensive x-factors against the Patriots: a fullback? Yes, as Johnson’s impact extends beyond the stat sheet. To make room for the passing game, the Raiders offense needs to get their running game going. Johnson steps in at this point. Because he acts as a sixth offensive lineman whenever he is on the field, he’s a weapon in the run game. Johnson may have a little extra oomph because he’s playing his old team, and that could be crucial for the Raiders’ offense to get going. Additionally, since the Patriots are a great pass-rushing team, bringing Johnson in for pass blocking might be necessary.
Raiders’ X-Factor No. 3 – Hunter RenfrowÂ
With no offense intended for Mack Hollins, Renfrow will reassume his position as the No. 2 wide receiver if he plays. And how Carr and the Raiders’ offense missed him! Renfrow will have his chances given how the Patriots will defend Adams. Renfrow, most importantly, returns Carr’s preferred third-down target as well as another red zone target. The Raiders are ranked 29th in red zone scoring and 19th in third down conversion rate for the 2022 season, according to TeamRankings. Moving the chains against the Patriots will be challenging, but with Third and Renfrow out there, it makes things easier. Additionally, the Raiders have been lacking Renfrow’s outstanding route running in the red zone, where everything is more condensed.
*Top Photo: JakobJohnson.com