On Sunday, the Las Vegas Raiders will take on the Chicago Bears on the road, a team that has been one of the worst in football through the first six weeks of the season. Chicago came into the season with high hopes, as many thought Justin Fields would take a leap forward and become one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.
However, Fields has struggled, and on Sunday, he likely won't be available, as he has been ruled doubtful to play against the Raiders in Week 7.
That means the Raiders, already a 3.0-point favorites going into the week, will likely face Tyson Bagent, an undrafted rookie from DII Shepherd who won 43 of his 53 starts in college. In his only appearance of 2023, filling in for the injured Fields vs the Minnesota Vikings last week, Bagent was 10-of-14 passing for 83 yards and an interception, not exactly numbers that jump off the page.
Still, the Raiders have been down this road before, as in 2021, they were 3-1 and heavy favorites at home against Chicago. That game did not end up the way the Raiders would have liked, and in 2023, they have to avoid the same fate as this is a turning point of their season.
Sitting at 3-3, the Raiders have a great chance to get to 4-3 on Sunday, and with the New York Giants and Jets coming up after the Detroit Lions, a 6-4 record after ten weeks is a real possibility.
Raiders cannot afford to look past the Bears on Sunday
It is not like the Raiders do not have their own issues at quarterback, as Jimmy Garoppolo is also likely out after having to go to the hospital during the team's win against the New England Patriots this past Sunday. That means either veteran Brian Hoyer, or rookie Aidan O'Connell will get the start in Week 7, and it will likely be the rookie making his second NFL start.
Chicago also has some elite players on their roster, including offensive tackle Darnell Wright and linebacker TJ Edwards. While Bagent does not have a ton of experience, he does have playmakers like DJ Moore and Cole Kmet in the passing game, while running back Khalil Herbert is averaging over five yards per carry.
There is also the fact the Raiders have yet to find an identity on offense, as the run game has yet to get going, and there are some rumblings that Davante Adams is not happy. Yes, the defense has been much better in 2023, so that is where the Raiders must continue to win and hopefully, the offense finds some kind of spark behind either O'Connell and Hoyer.
This is a very winnable game for the Raiders, but like we learned in 2021, you cannot look past anybody in today's NFL.