The Las Vegas Raiders reignite a historic rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16. Here are the key players to watch in the matchup.
The Las Vegas Raiders have no time to bathe in the memory of last week’s dramatic last-second victory, as they prepare for a short turnaround in Week 16. On deck are the Steelers, who despite what their record suggests, have plenty to play for on Saturday.
In the aftermath of Franco Harris‘ passing, and in honor of the Immaculate Reception, expect them to play physically amid the backdrop of a cold Christmas Eve matchup. Las Vegas will battle a motivated team and unfavorable weather conditions, but they can still come out on top with consistent performances from key playmakers.
Ahead of another chapter within this historic rivalry, here are the three Raiders to keep an eye on for the Week 16 matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders at Steelers 2022 Week 16: 3 Raiders to Watch
The Raiders narrowly escaped another blown double-digit lead thanks to a miraculous last-second play, but if it had gone the other way the noise would be deafening this week. One of the hot topics would naturally be the involvement, or lack thereof, of Davante Adams in the passing game. Despite notching the victory, Adams had his third-lowest receiving performance of the season after hauling in four catches for just 28 yards.
Expect Derek Carr and Josh McDaniels to target Adams early and often as they make the trip out to Pittsburgh this weekend, and they should as it is a sound strategy. Heading into Week 16, the Steelers have just the 24th-ranked pass defense which gives up an average of 238.8 yards per game through the air.
In contrast, Pittsburgh has the seventh-best run defense, so Las Vegas has to keep the passing attack consistent in order to ease the load for Josh Jacobs. Keeping the Raiders’ best player involved through both halves will be paramount for Las Vegas to leave with a win.
Despite playing for just a limited number of snaps last week, Waller made an impactful return to the field nonetheless as he suited up for the first time since Week 5. The Raiders’ star tight end hauled in all three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. With another high-profile weapon back in the fold, Carr should be equipped to spread the ball with more ease.
Suddenly, the Steelers’ 24th-ranked pass defense can’t get away with just drawing all of their attention to Adams. They will also need to account for Waller as well as the addition of Hunter Renfrow. But Waller, per usual, represents just as much of a matchup advantage as Adams. Keeping the tight end involved should get Las Vegas a much-needed edge.
A promising sign for the Raiders down the stretch has been the resurgence of Chandler Jones after the veteran pass rusher had a quiet start to the season. In his last three games, he’s recorded four sacks, eight solo tackles, and nine quarterback hits.
Las Vegas has the quarterback advantage in this one as they face Kenny Pickett, but keeping the rookie under duress will be key to monitor.
If the Raiders hope to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16, here are their keys to victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Steelers have been a slightly better run team (18th) versus a passing team (24th), so it wouldn’t be a shock to see them prioritize getting Najee Harris involved heavily. But forcing Pickett to move the chains through the air would be advantageous for the Raiders, and a consistent pass rush should help get the defense off the field efficiently. Maxx Crosby’s prowess speaks for itself, but a continued dominant showing from Jones will go a long way in exploiting Pickett’s inexperience.