On Sunday, the Las Vegas Raiders will play a rare early game against the Atlanta Falcons at Allegiant Stadium. There are several important matchups to consider when trying to determine a winner, but Henry Ruggs III is likely the key to a Raiders victory. The Raiders will need to drastically increase Ruggs’ targets if they want any chance at victory this weekend. Below is a breakdown of some Las Vegas Raiders vs Atlanta Falcons key matchups.
Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders Pass Rush Keys To a Week 12 Victory
Henry Ruggs vs Falcons Pass Defense
It has been a slow start to the season for Henry Ruggs, especially when compared to other rookie wide receivers. Ruggs has just 14 receptions for 256 yards and one touchdown on the season thus far. He has struggled to separate and beat jams against some of the more physical cornerbacks in the league. Thankfully, these are issues that will resolve themselves over time as his strength continues to develop. In the meantime, the Raiders will need to keep finding creative ways to get Ruggs the ball. One reverse sweep per game just will not cut it going forward. The Raiders should look to incorporate more wide receiver screens and pre-snap motion to help get Ruggs going. Things have not looked great early, but the potential for Ruggs is still astronomical.
The Falcons pass defense has been anything but serviceable this season. The unit ranks 31st in both passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed this season. A combination of poor draft picks and sub-optimal coaching is likely to blame for their struggles thus far. With that in mind, the Raiders should be primed to take a lot of deep shots down the field. This should be the Ruggs breakout game that the entire Raideres fanbase so desperately wants to see.
Raiders Pass Rush vs Matt Ryan
Something has to be done about the lack of a pass rush from the Raiders. The team, once again, failed to register a single sack last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. The additions of Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley should help, but both are likely a week or two away from being able to make any type of significant impact. The Raiders blitz more than almost any team in the league and still have trouble getting to the quarterback. The reality is that the Raiders are just devoid of talent in that area. It is a problem that likely cannot be fixed at this point in the season. A non-mobile quarterback in Matt Ryan should hopefully make things a little easier this week.
The writing is on the wall for Matt Ryan. The league is slowly starting to leave behind the immobile and nonathletic-type quarterbacks. Ryan happens to be one of the last of a dying breed. NFL offenses are simply more dynamic and exciting to watch when a mobile quarterback is on the field. Even Derek Carr has shown off his underrated athleticism throughout the course of the season. With that in mind, all of this is moot if the Raiders cannot find a way to put pressure on Ryan. A quarterback does not need to be athletic if the opposing team is inept at rushing the passer. The Raiders pass rush must show improvement this week, or it will be an embarrassing weekend for Las Vegas.
Do not let the 3-7 record fool you, the Falcons are a dangerous team. They might not have a lot to play for, but Atlanta will not roll over for anyone. Thankfully, the Raiders seem to be getting healthier as the weeks go on. The return of both Clelin Ferrell and Cory Littleton will help tremendously in run defense. That alone should help force the Falcons into some long second and third downs. These obvious passing downs will be a prime opportunity for the Raiders to boost their abysmal sack numbers. If Las Vegas does not generate enough pressure this Sunday, then a devastating loss may be the end result.