The Las Vegas Raiders entered the 2022 NFL season hoping to field a loaded offense for the AFC West. Las Vegas is trying to maintain its remaining dignity en route to a Week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s a bad situation right now. Las Vegas has lost three of its last four games, with back-to-back losses to teams with a 3-6 record through Sunday. Sitting at the bottom of the NFL rankings and in the basement of the AFC West, it’s hard to imagine things could get any worse.
See also: Las Vegas Raiders schedule
Yet that’s exactly what fans fear ahead of Week 10. A loss on Sunday would not only drop this team to 2-7, but also against a team led by an interim coach with only high school-level experience.
Here are five keys to the Las Vegas Raiders’ victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ injuries, the Colts’ inexperience as coaches
The road to victory will be less certain this week compared to the weeks before. It’s not just about the action on the pitch, it’s also about the staff on both sides.
Las Vegas is without two of its top pass catchers in tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (oblique), both of whom landed on injured reserve Thursday.
Since training camp, Waller has struggled with a hamstring injury that never seemed to fully heal. On the other hand, Renfrow has sustained multiple injuries to his ribs, hips and hamstrings while also performing concussion protocol.
The Colts have replaced head coach Frank Reich, who was fired earlier this week for ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday, a two-time All-Pro center and a Super Bowl champion with the Colts.
The challenge facing the Raiders as they prepare for Indianapolis is their lack of experience over Saturday’s college game. Las Vegas must figure out the Colts’ inconsistencies in Saturday’s first game as NFL head coach.
Run for every four quarters
The most important takeaway from last week’s 27-20 loss was the execution of the Raiders. Several players said the team lacked performance throughout the game, wiping out the third 17-plus point lead of the season.
“Just find a way to be consistent enough to do that across the course for a full game, every four quarters. Whatever that is, it really is the execution of the players. At the end of the day, it’s about making adjustments and everyone doing their job.”
Davante Adams opens up about the Raiders’ inconsistency in Las Vegas
The skill for the Raiders is that while they may have good hard practice, they need to be able to translate this late in ball games, especially when they have a lead.
Without players like Waller, Renfrow, recently retired linebacker Blake Martinez, or safety Johnathan Abram, who was waived earlier this week, this team still needs the will and energy to win a football game Sunday before Raider Nation.
This is the Raiders’ only home game in six weeks as the Raiders return to the tour, staying in the western United States and traveling to Seattle and Denver before playing four of their last six games at home.
Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs need to step up
With Waller or Renfrow absent next month, quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders will have to rely on Adams and running back Josh Jacobs, both of whom have had productive weeks throughout the season.
Adams is tied for most touchdowns in 2022 with seven along with Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce.
Jacobs has 43 rushing first downs, which ranks highest in the NFL.
It will be a difficult task for both of them as Adams will most likely face off against Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Additionally, Jacobs is up against an Indianapolis defense that only allows 3.8 yards per carry, including defensive end Yannick Ngaouke and Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, both of whom were in Las Vegas last season.
As a result, other players have to get behind Adams and Jacobs, including tight end Foster Moreau, wide receivers Mack Hollins and Keelan Cole, and running backs Brandon Bolden, Ameer Abdullah and Zamir White.
Las Vegas must put pressure on Sam Ehlinger
On defense, one of the struggles has been the quarterback as the Raiders are bottom in the NFL with nine sacks and a 70.5% completion rate against opposing play callers.
The teams’ ability to put Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones on the defensive has opened the door for other players along the defensive line, including rookie defensive tackles Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler, who came in for Andrew Billings and Andrew Billings were replaced by Bilal Nichols.
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“The only thing that strikes me about these two young players is that the game is slowing down for them. It’s started to slow down with these two players, which is where we’re not starting to see flashes of the outburst and power that we really liked in college.
Las Vegas Raiders HC Josh McDaniels via Neil Farrell Jr., Matthew Butler
The next step in their development is to produce at a high level alongside their teammates in the back line. If the Raiders can get to Indianapolis quarterback Sam Ehlinger and restrict him, it’ll be a lot easier for the secondary.
Raiders must bottle Jonathan Taylor
It’s another one-on-one running back match as Jacobs now takes on Jonathan Taylor, who has been sidelined for the past few weeks with an ankle injury.
Taylor trained fully on Thursday and Friday and is ready for his return. However, in the event that Taylor gets capped with his snaps, the Raiders will have to watch out for his backup Deon Jackson.
As a result, the Las Vegas Raiders must try to stop the run, even if it boils down to second and third tiers among linebackers and secondaries.
Las Vegas’ depth at linebacker continues to be challenged as Divine Deablo was placed on injured reserve, Denzel Perryman continues to battle injuries and Martinez retires. Behind Perryman, the Raiders will have alongside Taylor Jayon Brown and Luke Masterson looking to defend the Colts’ tight ends.