The 2022-23 regular season concludes against the long-time rival Kansas City Chiefs. The Las Vegas Raiders’ season was underwhelming, particularly when the offseason had so much hype and promise, but many issues led to a down season. Optimism is looking up for next year as good draft positioning and cap space seem to favor the Silver and Black. With questions about who will come back next year and who won’t, here are three players who need to finish the season strong.
Raiders’ Player No. 1: Mack Hollins
The former North Carolina Tar Heel is well-traveled and has become a crowd favorite for his personality and play. In previous years, Mack Hollins has been looked at more as a special teamer and depth receiver. With injuries this season, he took on a bigger role, and his stats and play improved. Per NFL.com, “Mack 10” has amassed 55 receptions for 675 yards and four touchdowns. Couple that with 12.3 yards per reception, and he has had a productive season. If Hollins can go out and put together a good game in the finale, he may lock down a place on a team that may contend next season.
Raiders’ Player No. 2: Jarrett Stidham
The one they call “Stiddy” had the type of start that players dream of. It was not only great as Jarrett Stidham eclipsed 437 yards and three touchdowns to add a 99.3 QB rating, as stated by the NFL. He did it against the number-one-rated defense, and the two interceptions thrown, while not ideal, were just part of the game. In this matchup with the Chiefs, he faces a formidable team, but one that in the previous matchup gave up 378 yards to the Raiders. The quarterback situation is up in the air leading up to next season. The only thing for sure is that the previous incumbent, Derek Carr, is no longer coming back. If he can duplicate last week’s performance and win, he may be under center in Week 1 of 2023.
Raiders’ Player No. 3: Nate Hobbs
The late-round gem from last season has struggled in Year 2. He missed nearly two months of action following a broken hand and has not looked the same since his return. He was thrust into being an opening-day starter and was having early success, but he has been on the wrong end of multiple touchdowns ever since. According to Pro Football Reference, the former University of Illinois product has given up five touchdowns this season along with a rating of 122 when targeted. Those numbers don’t exactly scream CB1, so this Saturday could mean the difference between being on the outside or back on the inside next season.
The matchup for the Raiders’ cornerback on Saturday is both good and bad. On one hand, he takes on a quarterback who is going to throw the ball around, so the opportunities will be there. On the other hand, the quarterback is a generational talent who can make any defender look lost. If Hobbs is to make his case and close the year strong, there is no better time than the present.
*Top Photo: Yahoo Sports/USA Today