Las Vegas Raiders: Biggest what-ifs of Derek Carr’s career
What if Derek Carr doesn’t break his ankle in 2016?
The year is 2016 and all is well in Raider Nation. Despite a couple losses to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders are in pole position to win the AFC West for the first time in 15 years and the playoffs are all but assured. Khalil Mack is just getting started on his Hall of Fame career and their Carr is in the midst of and MVP campaign.
Carr has weapons to turn to at every position and the defense is opportunistic and exciting.
Since Raiders fans can’t have good things, this all comes crashing down in Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts. Four minutes into the fourth quarter and the Raiders up 33-14, Carr drops back but gets sacked by Trent Cole and is writhing on the ground in pain after the play.
He immediately exclaims “it’s broke” and is carted off the field along with any hopes the Raiders had for the season. They would go on to hold off a furious Colts comeback but would get blown out the following week by an inferior Denver Broncos team that had nothing to play for.
If the Raiders had beaten Denver, they would have won the AFC West and would have gotten a bye week in the playoffs but instead were a wild-card team and had to travel to Houston with their third-string quarterback leading the way.
If Carr had not gotten hurt on that play, we can project that the Raiders would have beaten Denver in Week 17 and would have hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2001. They would likely have faced the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Oakland, a place they have historically dominated the Steelers, and then could have gone on to face the Patriots in the AFC championship in New England.
There’s no guarantee that they would have beaten the number one overall seed at home, but it would have been a far better ending to the season than Carr being carted off and going to Houston with little hope of victory. Many of Carr’s detractors say that he has never been the same after his ankle break and perhaps there is some truth to the idea that he plays safer than he did prior to that injury.
Either way, it robbed Raider Nation of a home playoff game and at least a puncher’s chance of making it to the Super Bowl.