With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride, SB Nation’s Las Vegas Raiders website, five questions leading up to the game.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
Derek Carr got a new contract this offseason, and a new weapon in his former college teammate Davante Adams. How has the tandem done throughout the 2022 season? Has it lived up to the hype?
Carr and Adams have been one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season. Adams ranks fourth in the NFL for receiving yards (1,275) and is tied for the most receiving touchdowns (12) with Travis Kelce, so the Fresno State tandem has been pretty good for most of the year. Adams also joined Josh Jacobs and Maxx Crosby as the team’s Pro Bowlers this season.
However, Carr has continued to be the same player he’s been over the last few years and has struggled to connect with anyone outside of Adams. He’s continued to be a good, not great quarterback whose play is somewhat volatile from week to week. To his credit, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller have been out for the majority of the year, so Carr’s second and third targets have been Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau for the majority of the season which is less than ideal. That being said, one would hope a nine-year starting quarterback would be able to overcome that, especially with an All-Pro target still on the field. But again, Carr is who he is at this point and it’s hard to expect that to change anytime soon.
After the resignation of Jon Gruden, the Raiders eventually brought in Josh McDaniels to be their coach. What have fans thought of McDaniels’ first season at the helm of the team?
It’s been a rough first season for McDaniels. I think just about everyone, except for owner Mark Davis, wanted to see McDaniels fired when the Raiders started the season 2-7 a year after making the playoffs. The fanbase has definitely calmed down since then with the team winning four of their last five games, but 6-8 with microscopic playoff odds heading into Christmas makes that run feel like too little, too late. Just based on my gut and what I’ve seen on social media, I’d say more fans want McDaniels gone but there is a division where some want to give him another chance.
He’s gotten several votes of confidence from Davis over the last couple of months, so I think there’s a good amount of people who have kind of just accepted that McDaniels will be back and want to see if it will be any different in year two. I fall into that category but wouldn’t be mad at all if he was a one-and-done.
Josh Jacobs has had a renaissance season this year. What has made the Raiders’ running game so dynamic this year?
I’m not sure if you did this on purpose or not, but this question and your last one are kind of related, lol. In addition to McDaniels, Las Vegas hired his college buddy and former Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler as the general manager. One of their first decisions together this offseason was to decline Jacobs’ fifth-year option on his contract, which has blown up in their faces.
Jacobs has been on record as saying that he understands and respects McDaniels’ and Ziegler’s decision, but he also has used it as motivation. He’s been pretty much the same player he’s been in the past, he’s just on a whole new level. Jacobs has always been elusive and great at forcing missed tackles but staying healthy has been an issue for him in the past and he’s managed to avoid any significant injuries this season.
Name some players on both offense and defense who might be considered “under the radar” type players Steelers fans should know in Week 16?
Offensively, I’ll go with guard Dylan Parham. Though he was a third-rounder, he was the Raiders’ first pick of the draft after the Adams trade and Parham has been solid all year, especially considering the coaching staff has had him play three different positions — center and both guard spots — as a rookie. So, I’ll be interested to see how he holds up against the Steelers’ defensive line.
On the other side of the ball, I’ll go with another rookie in linebacker Luke Masterson. He was an undrafted free agent so he didn’t get much playing time at the beginning of the season but injuries have thrust him into the starting lineup over the last few weeks. Masterson led the team in tackles and had his best game as a pro last week, standing out with a few good open-field tackles to prevent first downs in coverage and a few nice plays against the run. It’ll be interesting to see how he holds up against Najee Harris.
The Steelers are currently 2-point favorites at home, via the DraftKings Sportsbook. Do you think this spread is fair, and how do you see the game shaking out?
Two points seem like a good line for this game, in my opinion. As their identical records indicate, I think both teams are pretty evenly matched and Pittsburgh will have a strong home-field advantage with the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and the passing of Franco Harris this week. So, I think the Steelers cover but I’ve also been terrible at predicting Raiders games this year with how unpredictable their season has been.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 16 game vs. the Raiders this Saturday in Pittsburgh.