In terms of football, the run game becomes increasingly relied upon as the days get colder. This will be particularly true for this Christmas Eve game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Las Vegas Raiders. Unless you’ve been living on the moon, the weather is predicted to be below freezing. Also, quarterback Derek Carr does worse in chilly games, meaning that establishing the run will be pivotal. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders’ offense handles these unfamiliar circumstances. Here are three x-factors on the Raiders’ offense that must perform well when they face the Steelers in Week 16.
X-Factor No. 1: Raiders OT Kolton Miller
No matter who lines up against Kolton Miller, he’ll need to have a strong performance with Alex Highsmith and Larry Ogunjobi on the right side of the Steelers’ front. Miller is the best offensive lineman on the Raiders, and he will once again need to anchor the line. He must cover Carr’s blindside in pass protection, especially for this game. Protecting Carr’s blindside will be essential because he is infamous for struggling in these kinds of games. He won’t lock down entirely either, but he must be able to hold his own.
Miller’s impact will be just as important in the run game. If the weather is going to be awful, you don’t want to drop back and pass more than 40 times during the game. So it makes sense to rely more than ever on the run game. If the running backs can penetrate the second level of the Steelers’ defense, the Raiders can take advantage of their linebackers. If the Raiders can match Miller up against linebackers one-on-one, this is where he can make an impact.
X-Factor No. 2: Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs has failed to surpass 100 rushing yards in back-to-back weeks. It will also be challenging this week because the Steelers’ defense, according to Lineups, is second with regard to rushing touchdowns allowed and seventh in terms of rush yards allowed. The Raiders must rely on Jacobs in a frigid game. As a result, the best running back in the league will face one of the league’s top run defenses. For the benefit of the Raiders’ offense, Jacobs must win this battle.
Giving a running back 40 or more carries in a game is not ideal, but if there is ever a game where it is required, it is this one. Considering that the passing game will be nullified because of the weather, it makes the running game more crucial. Additionally, the current weather will make it even harder to tackle a running back like Jacobs. Furthermore, if you can get the running game going, the passing game will open up. If Jacobs is running hard and gaining a lot of yards, this will make the Steelers adapt and put more men in the box. At that point, you hope Carr can get something going.
X-Factor No. 3: Raiders WR Davante Adams
It’s worth noting that Adams, much like Jacobs, is also having somewhat of a dry spell. In fact, Adams has been held to under 100 yards receiving in consecutive games. But fortunately for him, the Steelers’ passing defense isn’t as strong as their rush defense. The Steelers’ defense, according to Lineups, allows the 24th most passing yards and the 29th most passing touchdowns. Adams appears to have a good matchup on paper, but his output is not entirely his own doing. His quarterback and coach are in charge of involving him.
In games played in chilly weather, passing is challenging, and catching the ball is considerably more challenging. Adams used to play in Wisconsin, where the weather was worse, which is fortunate for him. In order for the Raiders to provide the majority of their offensive output, they must rely on both Adams and Jacobs. Jacobs can break free if Adams can make the Steelers defenders pay more attention to him. No matter the weather, they need to get No. 17 involved frequently and early.
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