On Christmas Day, the Las Vegas Raiders will head into Arrowhead Stadium with much more than just their season on the line. For the 2023 Raiders, it has been a roller coaster of a campaign, as they saw their head coach, offensive coordinator, and general manager fired, and have tried to navigate numerous injuries and personnel changes.
Still, by some miracle, they are technically alive in the AFC Playoff race, though a lot can change from now until this game kicks off in the 10AM PT window on Monday. Sitting at 6-8, but fresh off a dominating victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders have a very small chance to make the playoffs, but that does not mean this team has any desire to go quietly into the night.
In fact, if Thursday is any indication, this Raiders roster is fired up to play for their interim head coach Antonio Pierce, posting 63 points against the Chargers in Week 15. Pierce, like general manager Champ Kelly, are trying to shake their interim labels after the season, and a win against Kansas City could be just what they need to seal the deal.
It is no big secret that this team plays harder for Pierce than they did for Josh McDaniels, and based on his leadership ability, and history in the game, he is the right guy to take over in a full-time role in 2024. Firing Pierce could cause some big-time issues in the locker room, as this team is playing hard for him, and I believe most players would want to see him back.
Raiders QB Aidan O'Connell could seal his fate Monday as well
Rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell has been up-and-down since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo once Pierce was named head coach, but that is to be expected from a rookie. In fact, as a fourth-round pick, O'Connell has played better than some players taken way before him, and on Thursday, showed that he could be the long-term answer at the position.
He still has three games left to stake his claim at being the starter in Week 1 of the 2024 NFL season, but a win on the road against Kansas City could earn him that right on Christmas Day. If he attacks the game like he did against the Chargers, we could be in for a high-scoring affair inside Arrowhead Stadium in this one.