Here are five keys to victory for the visiting Raiders in a game that kicks off at 1:30 p.m. PT:
Contain Myles Garrett:
This is Job One in this game. Garrett is an elite defensive end and he can change the games as he did last week as he scored a touchdown on a great play against the Baltimore Ravens.
He has 15 sacks this season. Of course, he is preparing against a Las Vegas offensive line that has struggled in pass protection for much of the season, especially in the last couple of games. Raider’s quarterback Derek Carr was under constant pressure in a Week 14 48-9 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs. That can’t happen again.
Adapt to the weather: Most of this game is going to be played at night and it probably won’t be pretty. It is supposed to be in the low 30s with likely wind and rain. The Raiders won 16-6 last November in a wind fest in Cleveland. They ran the ball and won a tough, hard-nosed game in bad conditions. They may need a repeat performance,
Stop the run:
Both teams will likely try to win this game on the ground. The Browns, who are expected to be without running back Kareem Hunt and has a large COVID outbreak among players this week, will likely lean heavily on Nick Chubb to dictate the game on the ground. The Raiders’ run defense has been spotty as it is allowing 125.3 yards a game on the ground, which is ranked 26th in the NFL. The Raiders can’t let Chubb run wild.
Don’t be sloppy:
When the Raiders protect the ball, they give themselves a chance to win. When they are careless with the ball, they usually have no chance. That was the case in Kansas City where they turned over the ball five times, starting with the first play from scrimmage, which resulted in a touchdown. Ball security will be key if the weather is bad, so Las Vegas must secure the ball.
#Raiders were tied for the 2nd fewest turnovers i the NFL (5) in 7 games before the bye. They are tied for the 2nd most (12) in 6 games after the bye— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 15, 2021
Stay on the field offensively:
This game has the makings of a low-scoring affair especially with Case Keenum likely quarterback Cleveland instead of Baker Mayfield. The Raiders have scored less than 16 points in seven of their last 10 games (all losses), Cleveland has a strong defense and the weather may be bad. That all points to not a lot of points being scoring.
So, the Raiders have to get as much out of their scoring chances as possible. They have been the worst third-down offense in the league for weeks. They have to find a way to convert and keep their defense off the field in a game where every series will count.