The Las Vegas Raiders take on the Los Angeles Chargers with a chance to go to the playoffs in Week 18, and here are our X-Factors for the matchup.
It took three straight victories after a terrible stretch after the bye week for the Las Vegas Raiders to get to this point. After beating the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts, the Silver and Black are one win away from punching their ticket to their first playoff appearance since the 2016 season.
Las Vegas has gotten here thanks to strong play from their defense, and a rejuvenated running game, all the while getting key efforts from their quarterback and kicker. All of these things will play a big role in the Silver and Black getting win No. 10 tonight inside Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders X-Factors against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 18
No. 1: The Allegiant Stadium Crowd
There is no doubt that the Raiders home crowd will be rocking in this one, as this is a fan base that has not seen this kind of game in quite some time. Sure, the 2016 run was nice, but Carr was injured late in the season, and the team really had no chance to win what was their first playoff game since the 2002 campaign.
Sunday night will be the kind of atmosphere that this stadium was built for, and you can be sure that the Chargers are going to have some trouble in crucial spots on the offensive side of the ball.
No. 2: The running game
Over the last few weeks, we have seen the running game really step up, and Josh Jacobs running with purpose for the first time in a long time. Jacobs is indeed listed as a game-time decision for this game, but do we really think that No. 28 is going to miss such a huge game for this franchise.
Jacobs has rushed for 244 yards over the last three games, a big jump from the kind of season he was having earlier in the year. If he can bring it against a terrible Los Angeles run defense, then the Raiders have a tremendous advantage in that category.
No. 3: Clutch Carr and Carlson
The two DCs have been clutch for the Raiders across this three-game winning streak, bringing their team back late in games, and putting some tough teams away in the waning moments. Carr may not have tremendous statistics over this run, but he has put the team on his back late, orchestrating drives that put the team in position for Daniel Carlson to knock down game-winning field goals.
In Week 18, I believe they will have a chance to do that once more, with Carlson sending a kick through the uprights, as well as sending his team to the playoffs.
Derek Carr has been the Raiders quarterback for eight seasons, but Sunday night could determine his future with the organization.
Overall, this is a game that the Raiders could certainly win tonight, and if they do end up getting the victory, it will be because these three X-factors played a big role. Las Vegas has won three straight to get themselves into this position, and one has to like their odds of completing their mission inside Allegiant Stadium in Week 18.