The Las Vegas Raiders are riding a two-game winning streak into a huge Week 17 contest with the Indianapolis Colts. This game is a must-win for the Raiders, who can control their own playoff destiny with a win on Sunday. However, even though they have won their last two games, the offense has sputtered down the stretch. In their last eight games, the Raiders have scored 20 points or more only once. And Sunday’s game and the season are going to fall on the shoulders of Derek Carr and the offense. While the defense has played well enough to win lately, the Raiders offense needs to step up to ensure a victory in Week 17. The Colts are a good team, and with them getting back to full strength this week, a productive offensive game by Las Vegas will be essential.
In Week 17 the Las Vegas Raiders Offense Needs to Step Up
The Raiders offensive line has been very disappointing in 2021, however the last two weeks they have seemed to gel. With guard Alex Leatherwood and center Andre James improving each week, the team is finally starting to see their plan come to fruition. To be successful against a good Colts defense, the Raiders need to protect Derek Carr and give him time to throw. Carr is a decent quarterback in this league when he has time in the pocket. The Colts defense has only 30 sacks on the season, so it is a good matchup for the Raiders in a sense. Brandon Parker and John Simpson have both struggled for the Raiders down the stretch, and the Colts have talent on the defense to create mismatches. Both the run game and passing game will rely heavily on the offensive line being effective this week.
The Raiders have been one of the league’s worst teams in the second half at ball security. Last week they turned the ball over three times, however, they still managed to win the game. This cannot happen in Week 17 versus a potential playoff team. And limiting turnovers starts with the quarterback. While Derek Carr has done a lot of things well this season his turnovers have come at horrible times. It is imperative that the Raiders control the ball and time of possession if they want to pull off the upset and part of that means protecting the football. A team like the Colts will make them pay if they don’t, and the Raiders are in win or go home mode. However, it is not only Carr who has to be better, as too many of the Raiders skill players have been loose with the ball lately as well, a trend they hope changes this weekend.
Last week running back Josh Jacobs eclipsed 100 yards for the first time this season. Something clicked for him and the Raiders ground game coming out of the locker room at halftime, and it could not have come at a better time. The Raiders simply win more when Jacobs is involved, as they are 2-0 when he touches the ball 20 times. Las Vegas’ goal should be to run the ball as much as possible on Sunday. Keeping the ball away from Jonathan Taylor and the Colts is imperative for the Raiders to get a victory. The Raiders have not been great at time of possession throughout the season, due to the lack of run game and turning the ball over. However, in order to beat the Colts, they will need to control the ball for as long as possible. And that means pounding the ball with Jacobs or getting Peyton Barber involved more.