Let’s look at five keys to the game for the Raiders:
Play like the better team:
This starts a six-game stretch in which the Raiders play games they can easily win. The opponents are a combined 13-21-2. Sitting near the bottom of the AFC standings, this is a great opportunity for the Raiders to claw back into the playoff picture. The Texans are 1-3-1 and simply not as good as the Raiders. Las Vegas needs to come out of the bye focused and hungry to get on the right track.
Live off Jacobs’ legs:
Raiders’ tailback Josh Jacobs has been one of the NFL’s hottest running backs and the Raiders’ best offensive player. Has had career-best rushing yardage games in back-to-back weeks and has 490 rushing yards. He is the engine to the offense. The Raiders might as well get on Jacobs’ back and let him carry them as long as he can.
Don’t let Davis Mills make plays:
Young Houston quarterback Davis Mills has struggled this season. He’s one of the worst ranked quarterbacks in the NFL and the Texans are averaging just 17.2 points a game. The Las Vegas defense is allowing 26 points a game, which is one of the worst averages in the league. Patrick Graham’s unit can’t let the Texans get comfortable. There is no reason why the Raiders should lose this game. Keeping the paltry Houston offense in check will help prevent a crushing upset.
Get Mack Hollins involved:
Hollins was a revelation for the Raiders early in the season. He had 13 catches in a two-game stretch against the Cardinals and Titans. But he had just three catches total in the past two games and didn’t have any in Week 5 against the Chiefs. That’s not going to cut it for a starting wide receiver who plays most of the snaps. Hollins, a career backup, doesn’t necessarily need to carry the offense, but he does need to make some plays in this game to help take pressure off the rest of the offense.
A good way to get upset in the NFL is to play down to the level of your competition and be sloppy. The Raiders’ offense can’t turnover the ball and the team has to keep penalties at a minimum. Simply put, the Raiders can’t give the game away.