After the Chargers failed to beat the Chiefs in Mexico, the Oakland Raiders need to handle business on their own.With that said, the New York Jets will welcome the team to town. In a must-win, the Raiders can’t afford any hiccups. Additionally, winning at Arrowhead remains Derek Carr’s Achilles’ heel. To answer these points, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Terrance Biggs address these issues.
The Raiders and Chiefs are neck and neck for first. What would it take winning this matchup at Arrowhead?
A win in Arrowhead would move the needle towards the Raiders way, however, as we’ve seen from Sunday’s performance against the Bengals, Oakland must stay dialed in and win as many games as it can. By no means does a win at Arrowhead allow the team to hold its chest out. The team isn’t good enough to do that.
If the Raiders can run the ball and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands, Oakland has a chance. Paul Guenther’s defense is still iffy, but it has made game-sealing plays.
For Derek Carr, a win at Arrowhead caps a magical season. With the playoffs in reach and a legitimate shot at the AFC West crown, that game means everything. All Carr needs to do is play the way he has during the balance of this season. When he ventures outside of his abilities and begins to force throws, disaster occurs.
The Jets, mired in a losing season, still pose a challenge. Which defensive player must Carr keep tabs on?
Jamal Adams. Talk about an impact safety. Adams is a sure tackler, adept blitzer and solid cover man. He checks all the boxes when it comes to “ideal” safety. If Derek Carr isn’t sharp both throwing the ball and changing the plays to the proper one, Adams has game-altering ability and can wreck the gameplan. Check this: Adams has six sacks this season. That’s only 0.5 sacks behind Raiders rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby.
Henry Anderson may not be a household name. Yet, his size and strength could be an issue. Moreover, Anderson shows enough wiggle to take up multiple blockers, allowing the linebackers to cleanup. Granted, the Raiders handle elite defensive linemen well. Yet, the under-the-radar ones always give teams fits.
Watching the team win three straight leads to playoff dreams. How do you temper your expectations?
By remembering what Jon Gruden said: “I’m not into dreams, I’m into (expletive) nightmares.”
The Raiders play up and down to competition and can teeter one way or the other. The Baltimore Ravens, a team with playoff aspirations, smashed the Bengals with no remorse. Oakland had to fight and claw to get the W. Playoff driven teams have the ability to step on lower opposition’s throats. The Raiders are still learning how to knock the opposition down and keep them there. The Jets contest is a gimmie — it’s at their house and Sam Darnold was dropping dimes against the Redskins.
Remember 2017-2018. When the Raiders were expected to contend and things fell apart. That bad taste needs to douse the flames of overreaction. While this version of the Raiders is superior to those, remembering how things were, should keep the focus.