With the Las Vegas Raiders still miraculously in the playoff hunt, they face an uphill battle against a talented San Francisco roster this week. Anything other than a win leaves the Raiders out of the playoffs again, and a win is a very tough objective against a team like this. The 49ers enter Week 17 with an 11-4 record. They still have a lot to play for, since they still have a chance to be the first seed in the conference. The 49ers are on a roll, while the Raiders very much are not. Here are three reasons why the 49ers will beat the Raiders on Sunday.
Jarrett Stidham Making His First Raiders Start
Every Raiders fan has heard plenty regarding the benching of Derek Carr. With Carr on the bench, Stidham has now been promoted into the starting lineup. This ends up making it much more likely that the 49ers will leave Sin City victorious.
This isn’t to necessarily say that Stidham is bad or will be bad. What it is saying, though, is that starting a young, unproven quarterback, one who has supposedly limited potential, Stidham might be able to play well due to teams having limited film on him. Yet, when the game is on the line during clutch situations, will the Raiders be able to count on Stidham pulling through?
The 49ers’ Elite Defense
The 49ers’ defense has been simply remarkable throughout this season. San Francisco is currently the only team allowing less than 300 total yards per game. The 49ers currently allow 290.1 yards per game. San Francisco also leads the league in both points and yards allowed. To put it bluntly, they’ve been dominant and are a huge reason for the 49ers’ 11-4 record.
Now, they have a very favorable matchup this week. The Raiders offense has struggled for a large part of this season, and last week they were atrocious in Pittsburgh. Adding a new wrinkle to the mix is the fact that a new, young quarterback will take the reins for Las Vegas. A mostly inexperienced quarterback being added to the mix doesn’t seem like a pleasant matchup.
With the current struggles and a new quarterback at the helm, things obviously don’t seem to be trending in the right direction. One caveat for the Raiders may have been the fact that the 49ers wouldn’t have much on Stidham to study. The element of surprise is definitely in the Raiders’ favor.
Brock Purdy’s Impressive Play
On the other side of the ball, Brock Purdy has been more than the 49ers could have possibly asked for. With Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a serious injury, there was a lot of uncertainty about this team’s immediate future.
However, Brock Purdy has filled in in an excellent manner. Purdy has still won every game he’s played in. However, the Raiders’ defense isn’t the cakewalk that it may seem to be at first glance. Las Vegas has held many of their recent opponents to fewer than 20 points. Included was a very impressive performance last week against the Steelers.
There are a lot of injuries around the defensive unit as a whole, and there isn’t a ton of talent still healthy. Yet, Patrick Graham has gotten the most out of this unit over the past two months, and they’ve been able to hold their own. Now, they’ll face a very tough test against a quarterback who hasn’t been stopped before.
*Top Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images