The Oakland Raiders have a huge game on Sunday Night Football this week. Here are their five keys to victory versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15.
The 2017 NFL season really all comes down to this one. The Oakland Raiders will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football in Week 15. Whichever team wins this game can stay alive in the NFL playoff race. However, the loser has almost certainly seen its playoff chances evaporate.
Oakland enters play at 6-7 on the year. The Raiders are a game back of both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West standings. Oakland is a game back of teams like the Chargers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills for the final AFC wild card spot.
Dallas enters play at 7-6 on the year. The Cowboys cannot win the NFC East, as the Philadelphia Eagles clinched the division title last week with a win over the Los Angeles Rams. Dallas will have to make it in as a wild card team. The Cowboys are a game back of the Atlanta Falcons for the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff, but lost to the Falcons earlier in the season.
The stakes are high in this primetime affair between the Raiders and the Cowboys. Though the Cowboys are a road favorite in this one, there is reason to believe that the Raiders can get back to .500 by winning this ball game. Here are the five keys to victory for the Raiders.
Derek Carr has to look to throw the ball down field.
It has to stop. No more of this bubble screen junk spewing out of offensive coordinator Todd Downing’s play book. It was a terrible game plan versus the Chiefs last week, as quarterback Derek Carr threw for under 75 yards in the first three quarters of the ball game.
Carr is at his best as a passer when he looks to throw the ball down field. He’s just not accurate enough in the short-to-medium passing game to be an efficient West Coast thrower. His use of play action is his greatest attribute as a passer, but that of course is predicated on a strong running game.
When Carr averages more than eight yards per attempt in a ball game, the Raiders win. When he does not, the Raiders struggle to put up points and will lose the ball game because of it. To be fair, it’s not like Carr has had a full receiving corps of late. Amari Cooper has been hurt of late and largely ineffective all year. Michael Crabtree was suspended two weeks ago when the team really needed him.
Regardless, the Raiders aren’t going to win if Carr does his best impression of Dak Prescott dinking and dunking. If Carr resorts back to being a check down artist, the Raiders won’t have a chance to win this ball game. Carr doesn’t have to complete well over 60 percent of his passes to win, but he needs to keep his eyes down the field to beat the Cowboys.