The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) return home to TIAA Bank Field this Sunday to take on the Las Vegas Raiders (2-5). The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. Eastern Time kickoff and will be broadcast on CBS in local markets.
The Jaguars enter the game on a five-game losing streak, but the Raiders have also struggled in 2022 as well, winning just two of the team’s first seven games. To learn more about Las Vegas, we spoke with Matt Holder of Silver & Black Pride — SB Nation’s home for everything Raiders.
What has been the reasons behind the Raiders’ struggles? Are fans in Las Vegas already doubting head coach Josh McDaniels? How can quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Jacksonville’s offense best attack Las Vegas’ defense? Matt answers these questions and more.
1. The Raiders are just 2-5 on the season, and are coming off of a 24-0 shutout loss to the New Orleans Saints. Why has the team struggled thus far? What are the early thoughts from fans on head coach Josh McDaniels and his staff?
Matt: The Raiders are really just a disorganized mess this season. For the most part, when the offense plays well the defense can’t get a stop, and vice versa. Fair or not, McDaniels is shouldering a lot of the blame within the fanbase as Las Vegas was a playoff team a year ago and added a superstar in Davante Adams, but somehow got worse and the postseason feels like an afterthought. I’d say the majority of Raider Nation already wants McDaniels gone already.
2. Earlier this year, the Jaguars did go on the road to easily defeat the Chargers in Los Angeles, but have historically struggled on the West Coast. With the Raiders traveling east to Jacksonville this week, is there any concern that the long trip could take a physical toll and cause fatigue/jet lag for Las Vegas, or is that a non-issue? Why or why not?
Matt: Not at all because the Jaguars will have more jet lag than the Raiders do after playing in London last week. Meanwhile, the Raiders played in New Orleans and stayed in the southeast for practice this week at IMG Academy in Sarasota. The schedule-makers did Las Vegas a favor since they won’t have to log as many air miles as Jacksonville will for a home game.
3. Offensively, how would you evaluate the play of quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs this season? Are there any under-the-radar players on Las Vegas’ offense who Jaguars fans should watch for on Sunday?
Matt: Carr and Adams have been up and down for the majority of the season as they’ll connect for 10-plus catches and 100-plus yards one game and then look like they’re out of sync the next. I’m sure learning a new offense has played a big factor, but they haven’t picked up right where they left off from their Fresno State days like a lot of people thought they would, or at least not consistently.
As for Jacobs, he’s been arguably the best player on the team. Maxx Crosby is the only other guy that could give him a run for his money as team MVP, but Jacobs is one of the league’s leading rushers and has been doing a lot of it on his own. Per PFF, he ranks second among running backs in missed tackles forced and fourth in yards after contact.
The only other offensive weapon that I can think of who might play a factor in this game is wide receiver, Mack Hollins. His 26 catches and 381 yards are career-highs (and significantly) and he’s managed to find the end zone twice. Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow have struggled to connect with Carr this season, partially due to injuries, but Hollins has emerged as the team’s second-leading receiver. Outside of him, though, the Raiders haven’t had anyone step up this season, and containing Adams and Jacobs is the key to stopping their offense.
4. The Raiders’ defense has mostly struggled, ranking 25th in yards allowed per game (366.7), 25th in passing yards allowed per game (258.1) and 25th in points allowed per game (24.9). However, the unit has been strong against the run, ranking 10th in the NFL (108.6 yards allowed per game). What is the best way for Doug Pederson, Trevor Lawrence and the rest of Jacksonville’s offense to attack this defense?
Matt: Double-team Crosby and take advantage of a beat-up secondary. Chandler Jones was brought in to take some of the pressure off Crosby, but Jones has been a shell of himself with only half-a-sack and very few pressures to go along with it. Unfortunately, Las Vegas’ pass rush has been pretty dependent on one guy this season and New Orleans figured that out pretty quickly, so they were able to keep Andy Dalton clean and pick apart a bunch of replacement-level defensive backs.
The Raiders have had to deal with a bunch of injuries in the secondary this season. Anthony Averett was supposed to be the first cornerback off the bench, but he went on injured reserve after the season opener, and then when he returned, their top cornerback, Nate Hobbs, headed to IR. Now, Averett’s starting and has struggled to fill Hobbs’ shoes. Rock Ya-Sin is the other starting corner who Jaguars fans might remember from his days in Indianapolis, and he’s been solid, but not the CB1 that they currently need him to be. They’ve also been banged up at safety too, so there will certainly be opportunities for Lawrence to push the ball down the field if the offensive line can keep Crosby at bay.
5. If you could take one player from Jacksonville’s roster and add said player to the Raiders’ roster, who would you choose and why?
Matt: Tyson Campbell.
As I just mentioned, the Raiders are pretty depleted at cornerback and it’s looking like that will be one of their top draft needs even when Hobbs returns. I liked Campbell’s traits coming out of Georgia and it looks like he’s putting it together and could be a Pro Bowler moving forward. I could also go with Josh Allen, but the wound from drafting Clelin Ferrell over Allen is still too fresh!
Bonus: According to the DraftKings Sportsbook, the Raiders are currently favored on the road by 1.5 points and the over/under is set at 48. Will the Raiders cover, are you taking the over or the under and what is your final score prediction?
I think so, but I thought that last week and just about every other game this season, minus the bout with the Kansas City Chiefs. To me, the Raiders have a much better roster than the Jaguars and if they can avoid beating themselves, which they’ve struggled to do all year, then they should have no problem winning on Sunday.
I’ll take the under and say Vegas covers with a 24-20 win.
A big thank you to Matt for his thoughts, insights and analysis regarding Las Vegas. For additional coverage on the Raiders, please to follow Matt and follow Silver and Black Pride as well.