By: Kevin Le
Coming off a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Las Vegas Raiders look to bounce back against the Atlanta Falcons. At 6-4, the Raiders are in a prime position to make the playoffs, but cannot overlook the 3-7 Falcons. The Raiders are one of three teams who have the easiest remaining schedules left in the NFL. Much buzz has been made about the Raiders who almost beat the Chiefs last week in a close game. That loss can either motivate this team or start a downward trend. With the Falcons not playing for much in this game, look for the Raiders to get back to their winning ways.
What’s at Stake?
The Raiders are trying to get back into playoffs for the first time since 2016, every game is crucial no matter the opponent. With six games left in the regular season, the race for the three AFC wildcard spots is tightening up. At 6-4, the Raiders control their destiny for a playoff birth and have a favorable schedule to do so. The two toughest opponents left on the schedule are the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins. Both games will be played at home and those teams are also vying for a playoff spot. With those games coming up soon, the Raiders can’t take any opponent lightly especially a dangerous team in Atlanta. This has the making of a trap game that the Raiders cannot lose if they want to play in January.
Drive the Carr
The Raider’s formula for winning is controlling the clock, converting third downs, running the ball, and making key defensive stops. Converting third downs is one of the best things this team does. Head coach Jon Gruden loves to use the clock, pound the ball and take shots when he sees an opportunity. Some keys to beating this Falcons teams is to use running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller out the gate and let the rest come after. The Falcons are ranked 24th in rushing defense and 29th overall on defense. Led by Derek Carr, this offense ranked 16th in the NFL should have another great showing in Atlanta.
On the defensive side of the ball, Paul Gunther’s unit is a bend, but don’t break style defense. This unit will have to pressure Matt Ryan, force third and longs and be opportunistic all day. The defense has had trouble getting pressure on the quarterback so they rely on making those big plays late. Getting to Matt Ryan on Sunday would help this defense get more sacks and cause more turnovers. Atlanta is ranked 11th on offense with weapons like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Todd Gurley for Matt Ryan. Ranked 22nd on defense, the Raiders would love to revive their defense with a good showing against the Falcons.
This matchup versus the Falcons will be based on who creates more turnovers and converts touchdowns over field goals. The Raiders will come out and lay the first punch with Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Coming off a tough loss to the Chiefs last week, the Raiders will use that defeat as motivation to get back to the win column. The Falcons will not have enough defense to keep up with Derek Carr and the weapons he has. When the Las Vegas Raiders travel to Atlanta, they will leave with a victory and inch closer to the playoffs. The final score will be 30 to 20, giving the Raiders the win.